Mon, May 27, 2013 - Page 7 News List

US highway buckles after train crashes into supports

AP, CHAFFEE, Missouri

A highway overpass in Missouri collapsed early on Saturday when rail cars slammed into one of the bridge’s pillars after a cargo train collision, authorities said.

Seven people were injured, though none seriously.

The bridge collapsed after a Union Pacific train hit the side of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a rail intersection. Derailed rail cars then hit columns supporting the highway, causing it to buckle and partially collapse.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into the cause of the cargo train collision, which happened about 2:30am near Chaffee, a town of about 3,000 people.

The crash came more than a week after a commuter train derailment outside in Connecticut that injured 70 people a disrupted service for day. That accident involved a railroad used by tens of thousands of commuters north of New York City.

In northwestern Washington state last week, a bridge collapsed when a truck driver’s load bumped against the steel framework.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said while the investigations into both collapses are in the early stages, “there is no similarity” between the Missouri accident and the bridge collapse in Washington, which sent two vehicles and three people falling into the cold water.

He added that the Missouri bridge was rated “good” after it was inspected in February.

“This was not because of any lack of integrity of the bridge in southeast Missouri, but because of a train that derailed and had a bunch of rail cars slamming around, which knocked down a pier, which allowed the bridge to collapse,” he said.

“If you just look at the facts, there is no relationship other than some external object caused each of these bridges” to collapse, he said.

The overpass that collapsed in Missouri was about 15 years old and in good condition, but just could not withstand the impact from the rail cars, Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said.

Only two vehicles were on the overpass at the time of Saturday’s collision.

Five people in the vehicles were taken to a hospital, along with a train conductor and an engineer.

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