BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- A train packed with morning commuters slammed into a barrier at the end of a line in Buenos Aires Wednesday, killing 49 people and injuring hundreds as passenger cars crumpled and windows exploded. It was Argentina's worst train accident in decades.
The dead include 48 adults and one child, most of whom had crowded into the first two cars to get ahead of the usual crowds on arrival. Some 600 people were injured, including 461 who were hospitalized, Transportation Secretary J.P. Schiavi said.
Emergency workers slowly extracted dozens of people who were trapped inside the first car, said Alberto Crescenti, the city's emergency medical director. Rescuers carved open the roof and set up a pulley system to ease them out one by one.
The commuter train came in too fast and hit a shock-absorbing barrier at the end of the platform of the Once station at about 16 mph (26 kph), smashing the front of the engine and crunching the leading cars behind it; one car penetrated nearly 20 feet (six meters) into the next, Argentina's transportation secretary, J.P. Schiavi told reporters at the station.
The conductors' union chief, Omar Maturano, told Radio 10 that the train might have come in as fast as 18 mph (30 kph).
The conductor, who survived the crash, is relatively young at 28, and was apparently well-rested, Schiavi said.
The motorman was hospitalized and wasn't able to speak yet with his union representatives, union chief Ruben Sobrero said. "This machine left the shop yesterday and the brakes worked well. From what we know, it braked without problems at previous stations. At this point I don't want to speculate about the causes," he told Radio La Red.
But passengers said the conductor was evidently struggling with the brakes, missing his stopping marks at station after station.
The train was recorded slowing from 47 kph on approach to the final station, to 20 kph at a point 40 meters from the end of the line. "We don't know what happened in those final 40 meters," Schiavi said.
Most damaged was the first car, where passengers share space with bicycles. Survivors said many people were injured in a jumble of metal and glass. Images from a security camera show windows exploding as the first two passenger cars crumple into each other like an accordion, with a man on the adjacent platform scrambling across the tracks to escape the wreck.
The rush-hour train was packed with people standing between the seats, and many were thrown into each other and to the floor by the force of the hard stop.
The dead, meanwhile, were carried out the back of the station in body bags, beyond the view of television cameras, the Clarin newspaper reported.
The toll makes it Argentina's deadliest train accident since Feb. 1, 1970, when a train smashed into another at full speed in suburban Buenos Aires, killing 200 people.
President Cristina Fernandez canceled her day's agenda due to the accident, which raised fresh doubts about government investment in the train system millions depend on. While largely privatized, the system depends on huge state subsidies, and passengers pay relatively little compared to other countries.
There have been a half-dozen serious train accidents in Argentina in the last 15 months. Last Sept. 13, a bus driver crossed the tracks in front of an oncoming train, killing 11; two months later, another bus driver on a field trip drove in front of a train, killing eight schoolgirls.
"The series of train accidents hurts, and exposes the reality of a state incapable of controlling and acting to protect the passengers," opposition leader Ricardo Alfonsin tweeted.
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