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3 die as trains collide, smash homes in Hunan

TWO passenger trains rammed into each other from adjoining tracks yesterday in central China, derailing engines and carriages, crushing two houses and leaving at least three people dead and 63 injured.

The pre-dawn crash occurred in Chenzhou in Hunan Province when a train going from provincial capital Changsha to the southern city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province collided with another Shenzhen-bound train.

Two of the fatalities occurred on the trains, and another person died in a home that was damaged along the rail line.

More than 130 doctors and nurses were busy tending the patients last night, two of whom were in critical condition, according to Chen Jinglin, vice president of the No. 4 People's Hospital in Chenzhou, where most of the injured were being treated.

"The injured mainly suffered fractures, head trauma, stomach wounds and contusions," he said.

More than 30 volunteers were helping the nurses care for the injured.

The accident occurred at 2:34am at the Chenzhou railway station, according to an official with the Guangzhou Railway Group, which operates the station and the trains that crashed.

The locomotive and the first five carriages of one train and the engine and first two cars of the other derailed, the official said. One of the trains crashed into two nearby houses, causing them to collapse.

"Suddenly the train began to rock so violently that it was like a ship in the sea," said Yuan Shuxian, a student from Guangdong Province who received four stitches to close a cut on her leg. "Then I saw sparks from the train before all the lights went off... I was afraid, and my mind went totally blank."

Several seconds later, she heard people shouting and crying in the darkness. An opening appeared in the floor of the train and many people jumped out.

"I didn't know how deep it would be, but I jumped with my classmates," Yuan said.

They waited outside for about 10 minutes until an ambulance took them to a hospital.

"A loud voice pulled me out of a dream," said Wang Manju, whose house is next to the station. She said she was shocked when she opened the door to see the alley filled with dust and an overturned carriage.

"The train was twisted. I called the police after hearing screaming from the train," Wang said.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at the Chenzhou station, and more than 50 buses were sent to take them to their destinations.

Rail services in one direction of the line resumed at 10am and the other at 2:30pm.

Railways Minister Liu Zhijun went to Chenzhou to oversee the rescue work.

Another fatal train wreck occurred on April 28 last year when two passenger trains collided as a result of excessive speed, leaving 72 dead and 416 injured.

In May, the State Council gave Liu an administrative punishment.


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