The death toll for the tragic Once train crash hiked up to 49 people, while more than 600 are injured, police spokesman Néstor Rodríguez confirmed.
The death toll could rise as rescue operations continue to free people trapped in the train cars. The Ferrocarril Sarmiento train collided with the track bumber at 8.30am today at Once, one of the busiest rail hubs in Buenos Aires.
“The strongest impact happened between the first and the second car,” the police spokesman declared. He said that this is where the biggest number of casualties is suspected to have taken place.
The train capacity is for 800-1000 people. A faulty brake is suspected to be the cause of the accident.
Alberto Crescenti, head of the Emergency Unit (SAME), confirmed the casualties early this morning. “There are deaths, and more than 550 people are injured or trapped in the cars,” he said. Injuried people have been transported to 13 different hospitals around the capital.
Paramedics and officials will carry on the task of identifying the dead bodies at the Morgue Judicial and in Chacarita cemetery.
Dozens of people are gathering in the station’s surroundings asking for information about their beloved. However, there is still no official list identifying casualties and injured people.
Edgardo Reynoso, union delegate of the Sarmiento line, blamed the company trains in Buenos Aires, as well as the Secretary of Transportation and the National Commission for Transport Regulation (CNRT), for the lack of security checks in the past years.
Meanwhile, the Railway Union leader Roberto Nunez warned against “a lack of investment,” since “there are some trains that are from the [1950s and the 1960s]” around.
Transport secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said that there might be more victims amongst passengers of the Ferrocarril Sarmiento train, which was believed to have been travelling at 20 km/h at the moment of impact.
The train driver was removed from the train and taken to a near hospital. Reports say he is suffering from various injuries after spending more than 30 minutes trapped in the train car.
This is the second worst train accident in Argentine history. The most horrific one took place in 1970 when two trains collided in the Buenos Aires station Benávidez. Two hundred people were left killed on that occasion.
Another tragedy occurred in September 2011, when a total of 11 people died and more than 250 were injured after a train crashed with a bus on a level crossing. The fatal crash happened early in the morning (as it occurred today), at around 6am, when commuters start crowding the public transport.
Lead image by Brian Funk.