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Two confirmed dead after US train collision explosion

30 June 2016

Remains of two crew members have been discovered after two freight trains collided head-on near Amarillo in Texas on June 28. Another crew member is presumed dead, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and another has non life-threatening injuries after throwing himself from the train before the collision.

Stock image
Stock image

The two BNSF Railway freight trains, both with a conductor and an engineer on board, were on the same track when they collided, triggering a fireball. One train had earlier stopped in Amarillo to refuel for its trip to Chicago, and that diesel fuel contributed to a fire that burned into the night, the DPS said. The other train was headed to Los Angeles.

Freight cars and containers were derailed and strewn up to 400 metres from the collision site just outside the town of Panhandle, Texas. Both trains carried containers of consumer goods, such as paper products, clothing, television sets and computers.

Also complicating rescue efforts were heavy overnight rainstorms, local TV stations reported.
The city of Panhandle went through a precautionary evacuation to keep residents from inhaling the smoke and teams from the Environmental Protection Agency were on the scene to test for air pollution hazards.

BNSF tracks are not yet equipped with positive train control technology, which is due to be implemented by 2018. PTC uses GPS, radio and computers to monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger of colliding, derailing due to excessive speed or about to enter track that is off limits.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to the area to establish the causes of the incident.

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