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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

US train collision: Two killed in South Carolina

More than 110 people were injured in the incident early on Sunday

Emergency crews attend to the site of a train collision near Pine Ridge, Lexington County, South Carolina, US, February 4, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. County of Lexington / Reuters
Emergency crews attend to the site of a train collision near Pine Ridge, Lexington County, South Carolina, US, February 4, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. County of Lexington / Reuters

At least two people were killed and more than 110 people injured when a passenger train slammed into a freight train parked on a side track in the US state of South Carolina early on Sunday.

It was the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak trains — which provide intercity services across the United States — in less than two months.

Amtrak's Silver Star service was on its way from New York to Miami with eight crew members and about 140 passengers at around 2.45am when it ploughed into the CSX train at an estimated 95 kilometres per hour, governor Henry McMaster said. The wreck took place around a switchyard about 16km south of Columbia.

The governor said investigators have yet to determine how the Amtrak train ended up on that stretch of track.

"The CSX was on the track it was supposed to be on," Mr McMaster said.

The national transportation safety board sent investigators.

Mr McMaster said 116 people were taken to four hospitals. The main trauma hospital in the area had three patients in critical or serious condition, with the rest treated for minor injuries such as cuts, bruises and whiplash, said Dr Steve Shelton, Palmetto Health director of emergency preparedness.

Drone footage showed the locomotives of both trains crumpled, the Amtrak engine on its side. One car in the middle of the Amtrak train was snapped in half, forming a V off to the side of the tracks.

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Read more:

At least five die in Amtrak derailment — video

Four die, 63 injured in New York train derailment

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"It's a horrible thing to see, to understand the force involved," Mr McMaster said after touring the scene.

Many passengers were asleep with the train began shaking violently and then slammed to a halt, passenger Derek Pettaway told CBS.

"You knew we'd hit something or we'd derailed," he said.

Elliot Smith told The State newspaper of Columbia that he was staying with a friend when they heard what sounded like a propane tank exploding.

"The sound was so loud, you instantly knew it was bad," he said. Mr Smith said he and his friend saw passengers limping along the tracks, while others tried to get everyone out of the cars.

On Wednesday, a chartered Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a strategy retreat slammed into a rubbish lorry at a crossing in rural Virginia, killing one person in the lorry and injuring six others.

And on December 18 last year, another Amtrak train ran off the rails along a curve during its inaugural run on a route south of Tacoma, Washington, killing three people and injuring dozens. It was going nearly 129kph, more than twice the speed limit.