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Two trains collide south of Rome, injuring dozens

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ROME -- A passenger train rammed into another at a station south of Rome on Tuesday, injuring about 50 people -- some critically -- and temporarily trapping others in the wreckage, officials said.

A train traveling from Rome to Cassino stopped at the station in Roccasecca, about 80 miles south of the capital, said Luigi Irdi, a Trenitalia spokesman. Another train, headed from Rome to Campobasso on the same track, slammed into the first train from behind at 3:20 p.m., he said.

A witness said she saw a passenger car slip on top of another.

"There was a loud impact, and this train climbed over the other train," said Paola Molle, a 19-year-old student from Roccasecca who was parking her car nearby at the time.

"The people in the top car stuck their heads out the window and were looking down," Molle said in a telephone interview. "They looked calm to me. Then people started getting out of the train and lying down on the ground."

The cause of the collision was under investigation.

Among two people seriously hurt in the crash was an 8-year-old girl with life-threatening injuries, Irdi said. She had been traveling with her parents and brother, who had less serious injuries.

An unknown number of people had been trapped under the twisted metal of the wreckage, but all were freed by Tuesday night, officials said.

It was the second train crash in Europe in two days. On Monday, a commuter train collided with an oncoming passenger train in southern Poland, injuring at least seven people.

Though most train accidents in Italy are minor, the country has occasionally had deadly crashes. The most recent was in January, when a passenger train and a freight train collided head-on in northern Italy, killing 17 people.

Intesaconsumatori, a grouping of consumer organizations in Italy, released a statement later Tuesday calling for an upgrade of the country's rail network, which it said was plagued by "obsolete" structures that facilitated accidents. It also said industry leaders should resign.


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