8 died in Brazil train collision

Updated: 2007-08-31 14:41

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- A speeding train carrying hundreds of commuters slammed into an empty train near Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, killing eight people and injuring more than 80, officials said.

People wait near the site of a train crash in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007. [AP]

The commuter train was traveling at nearly 60 mph when it slammed into the rear end of an empty six-car train maneuvering slowly from one track to another, the Supervia company that runs the train said.

Some passengers aboard the commuter train had to be freed by rescue workers using blowtorches to cut through the twisted wreckage.

The collision, about 200 yards from a station on Rio's poor north side, killed eight people, said Pedro Machado, commander-general of the Rio de Janeiro Fire Department.

"We have to use blowtorches to open the sides of the train cars to reach the people," Machado said in a televised interview. "But now we're positive that there are no more fatal victims."

Brazil's government-run Agencia Brasil news service said 84 people were injured, while the Web site of Globo TV said the number reached 101. Most suffered light injuries, the reports said.

Authorities later confirmed that all the passengers had been freed from the wreckage.

Trains are widely used to commute to downtown Rio from the city's poor northern outskirts.

Joao Gouveia, Supervia's operational director, said the number of casualties was not higher because the eight-car commuter train left the downtown Central station before the rush-hour crush that routinely packs the trains wall-to-wall on business days.

He denied reports that the engineers were among the victims.

"The two did not die," he said. "One was injured and the other was not hurt."

Marcos de Souza, director of the Posse Hospital in Nova Iguacu, said more than 20 people were taken to the hospital for treatment.

He said the hospital had a large emergency ward but was bringing in extra personnel to treat victims.

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