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A high-speed train derailed in northern Italy early Thursday, killing two railway workers and injuring dozens of others when the engine car detached and rammed into a railroad building, authorities said.
The state-railway Freccia Rossa – or Red Arrow – passenger train was traveling on the heavily used Milan-Bologna rail line when it went off the tracks at a speed of 180 mph (300 kph), Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli told state radio.
It crashed around 5:30 a.m. in the countryside outside the town of Lodi while on its way to Bologna, officials said.
“The engine car derailed, detached completely and kept going,” Girolamo Fabiano, a railroad police official told state radio. “Then the second car derailed.”
The first passenger train car overturned while the rest of the cars remained upright. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
The railway confirmed the two fatalities were engineers driving the train. At least 27 others were injured, with two in serious condition.
Since it was early, the train only carried about 30 passengers, officials said. Only one passenger was sitting in the first car, for business-class, which overturned.
Lodi Prefect Marcello Cardona told ANSA the crash “could have been a carnage” if the train were full.
The remaining train cars remained upright. Rescuers had to help some passengers out of the train.
“I thought I was dead,” a passenger told local daily Liberta, according to the BBC. “I closed my eyes and prayed. The train was going very fast… suddenly, I felt a violent blow. A really loud roar.”
The out-of-control engine car clipped an unoccupied railway building in its path, ripping away part of an exterior wall of a railways maintenance building. The engine car ended its fatal trajectory, flipped around 180 degrees. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Fabiano said work had been done on that stretch of the line during the night. But he said it was unclear if that was a factor in the crash, whose cause was under investigation.
Authorities said it was possible the engine car automatically decoupled from the cars behind it as part of a safety mechanism to prevent the rest of the train from following the engine car in case of derailments.
The train only carried about 30 passengers at the time of the crash. (Vigili del Fuoco via AP)
Rail traffic was diverted to local tracks with delays of about an hour reported as investigators remained at the scene.
In other recent derailments near Milan, three people were killed and more than 100 injured when a regional train derailed on another line in January 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.