Trains collide in London; six dead
By AUDREY WOODS, Associated Press Writer, LONDON (AP)

A passenger train collided with an empty freight train in west London today, killing six people and injuring more than 160.

The trains collided at Southall station, leaving twisted metal, personal possessions and chairs strewn about the tracks. Acrid smoke billowed over the crash site.

The cause of the collision was not immediately known.

A spokesman for Railtrack, which is responsible for the rail lines, said the freight train was headed to a freight yard, crossing the main line on which the passenger train was traveling.

The Great Western passenger train was the 10:32 a.m. from Swansea, Wales, to London's Paddington station.

Police initially reported seven dead, but hours later said six people had died and that 13 were seriously injured. Another 150 received minor injuries. As many as 16 people were trapped in the wreckage and later freed, police said.

Dozens of people, apparently uninjured, walked away from the crash, many carrying baggage. A few were trembling and one elderly man, shaking and wrapped in a blanket, was carried from the scene.

One of the first people at the crash site said he heard cries, and rushed to help the stunned driver of the passenger train.

"The driver was sitting shocked and stunned by the train. I grabbed him and asked him if he was all right," Manjit Singh said. "He said, `What has happened?' "He was all black from the smoke, and his clothes were all dirty," Singh said. "The engine was on fire. From the second carriage, there were cries of `Help, help, help."'

Fires on the train were extinguished. Two shattered cars at the front of the train were visible, ripped apart and piled into each other. Dozens of paramedics and firefighters with specialist cutting equipment worked on the damaged carriages.

Fifteen ambulances were dispatched and two doctors were flown to the scene by air ambulance. Two hours after the crash, ambulances were still carrying the injured away.

Passenger Sue Orr told Sky TV she saw a lot of people with facial cuts and injuries. Many were in shock.

"There's people crying and trying to comfort each other," said Mrs. Orr, who was in one of the last cars. "It's pretty horrific really.

"We heard an almighty crash and there was a horrible screeching metal noise, massive impact, which caused a lot of luggage to start flying about."

Mrs. Orr and others tried to leave the train car while power cables were swinging past the windows but the conductor warned everyone to stay where they were until it was safe, she said.

"Thank God I smoke, that's all I can say, because if I didn't I'd be at the top there, and I probably wouldn't be speaking to you today," she said.

Graham Smith, director of the freight service company, said the driver of the freight train survived. Smith could not say whether anyone else was on board. Among the passengers from Wales were many journalists returning from coverage of Thursday's referendum for a Welsh assembly. A reporter told BBC radio that the car he was in derailed and was on fire.

"It's a scene of utter chaos here at the moment," said BBC journalist Mark Cole. When the train left the track, "glass was flying through the windows," he said. "The carriage I was in veered off. It caught fire. There was smoke everywhere."

Cole said the train was packed, with no spare seats and passengers having to stand.

Another BBC reporter, Jane Garvey, who was traveling on the Swansea train, told the network, "We seem to have hit something on the tracks. I think at the very least, people are very badly hurt."

She said the train had been traveling quickly after leaving Reading station about 15 minutes before the crash.

The managing director of Great Western Trains, Richard George, was on the train at the time of the crash, Garvey said.

"He was in the same carriage as me," she said. "I was in a terrible state but he was excellent just after the accident. He got up and told everyone not to worry."

Queen Elizabeth II sent her condolences in a statement from Buckingham Palace.




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