September 13, 2008

At Least 18 Dead in LA Trainwreck

Officials couldn't explain why a Los Angeles commuter train collided head on with a freight train Friday, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 135.

Rescue crews worked through the night near Chatsworth, Calif., where the engine of the freight train had plowed into in the front commuter train car as both trains derailed during the afternoon rush hour, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

One of the Metrolink commuter train's three cars tipped onto its side.

Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrell said the cause of the crash still unknown.

The scene was "total destruction ... chaos," Los Angeles City Fire Capt. John Virant told the newspaper. "They are in there removing dead bodies that are lying on top of survivors."

The engineer of the commuter train, Metrolink's train 111 en route from Union Station to Moorpark, Calif., was believed to have died in the crash. It was carrying 225 people, officials said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, speaking to reporters at the scene, said: "We don't know the number of people still trapped inside. We don't know what condition they're in. There are people trapped in there dead and alive -- they know that some are dead."