US highway buckles after rail cars hit overpass
Chaffee (US): A highway overpass in Missouri has collapsed 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 yesterday 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 National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the cause of the cargo train collision, which happened about 2.30 am, local time near Chaffee, a town of about 3,000 people.
The crash came a week after a commuter train derailed and was struck by another outside New York City, injuring more than 70 people and disrupting service for days.
And Thursday, a key bridge connecting the US and Canada collapsed in northwestern Washington state when a truck bumped against the steel framework.
National Transportation Safety Board chairman Debbie Hersman called the bridge collapse in Washington a wake-up call. She said yesterday that investigators need to find out if it could be repeated at similar bridges around the country.
The overpass that collapsed in Missouri was about 15 years old and in good condition but just couldn`t withstand the impact from the rail cars, Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said.
Only two vehicles were on the overpass at the time of yesterday`s collision. Five people in the vehicles were taken to a hospital, along with a train conductor and an engineer. All seven had been released by yesterday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Felecia Blanton said.
"You`re driving down the road and the next thing you know the bridge is not there. ... It could have been really bad," Walter said.
The crash derailed dozens of rail cars hauling scrap metal, automobiles and auto parts, tossing them into the overpass` support columns. The highway was shut down for about 8 miles (13 kilometres).
Two 40-foot (12-metre) sections of the overpass buckled while the two cars were on the roadway, sending the cars into the edges of the collapsed sections.
A diesel fire also broke out in one of the locomotives after the collision, but was quickly extinguished, Walter said.
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