Dozens injured as train hits truck in Israel

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The Independent Online

A train packed with hundreds of passengers hit a pick-up truck in central Israel today, causing a locomotive and one carriage to overturn. Officials said 35 people were injured.

Channel 2 TV reported one person was killed, but police could not confirm that report.

Rescue officials said one person was hurt seriously and three moderately. Three to five people were trapped inside the overturned carriages, and emergency services were working to free them, they said.

Twisted metal, downed trees and tipped train cars were scattered on top of and beside the tracks. The crushed pick-up truck stood several yards away from the tracks.

Rescue teams rushed into the carriages to evacuate the injured, some of whom were treated under eucalyptus trees flanking the tracks.

Michah Sher, a spokesman for Israel Railways, said 200 passengers were on the 12-14 carriage train.

There were conflicting reports on whether the truck had tried to cross a barrier that was down.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the barrier was down at the time of the accident, but a witness in a passenger car who identified herself only as Miri told Israel Radio that the gate was up.

"I'm not sure why (the truck) got stuck, but its two front wheels got caught," she said. "The driver got out before the crossing gate came down. ... The train just continued steaming ahead and the truck was crushed."

A witness told Channel 2 TV that efforts were made to alert the train to stop, but it struck the truck at full speed.