People in the Texas town of Bastrop are devastated after a tour bus carrying members of the local Senior Center was hit by a train in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Firefighters rushed to the scene after a freight train smashed into the charter bus yesterday, pushing it 300 feet down the tracks.
"I had a report back from someone who said, 'I've seen things, that I just don't think I'll ever forget.' And that's hard", said Barbara Adkins with the senior center. Rescuers spent more than an hour removing passengers.
The charter bus trip to Mississippi's coast began in Austin, Texas. The National Transportation Safety Board says the freight train was traveling at about 19 miles per hour at time of the collision. CSX said that none of the crew was injured in the accident. At least five of the injured were in critical condition, hospital officials said.
"We were trying to get off ourselves", said Jim DeLaCruz, who was sitting in the rear end of the bus.
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Witnesses told the Sun Herald that the tour bus appeared to have become stuck on the train tracks for several minutes before the deadly crash.
A Biloxi city spokesman said he was unsure where the bus was headed, The Associated Press reported, though charter buses often travel to Biloxi's casinos. The crossing had flashing lights and crossing gates, CSX says.
"We recommended that buses not use that particular crossing", Rhodes said. "That's what we want to know".
Biloxi firefighters tend to injured passengers escaping the wreckage after a train travelling from Austin, Texas, collided with a charter bus in Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S., March 7, 2017.
Officials have not released the names of the people who died.
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The bus is owned by Echo Transportation, authorities said.
A woman who lives about a block from where the train and bus finally came to a stop after the train crashed into the bus says she heard a "loud boom" and knew immediately what had happened.
Witnesses told MS news outlets the bus appeared to have been stuck on the tracks when it was hit.
"I took off running", Craig Robinson told the Sun Herald, describing the moment he saw the train headed toward the immobilized bus. "Right down the street we have Caillavet Street which is a four lane boulevard that the city has invested millions of dollars in that's an easy crossing for vehicles of all types".
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