6 Dead, Scores Hurt in Train Collision Near London

LONDON -- At least six people were killed Friday when a packed express train plowed into an empty goods train west of London, emergency services said.

Rescue workers swarmed over the front two crumpled carriages of the express and cut free 16 passengers from the tangled wreck.

Firemen painstakingly removed debris and pieces of seat through the windows of the carriages as they tried to reach those trapped. Others cut their way through the roofs of the mangled carriages.

More than 160 people were injured in the collision, some of them seriously.

Air ambulances were used to bring in doctors and help ferry casualties to four nearby hospitals.

Bewildered passengers on the high-speed service from Swansea in south Wales to London's Paddington station described scenes of panic and chaos after the early-afternoon crash.

Some travellers said they had had to wait for as long as 10 minutes in carriages filled with dark, acrid smoke before the doors of the train, which had automatically locked, could be opened.

A local resident who rushed to the scene of the accident described some Japanese tourists wandering along the track in a state of shock.

Sixteen ambulances rushed to the scene of the collision at Southall, in the western suburbs of the capital.

About 15 fire engines also sped to the crash.

A diesel locomotive caught fire as a result of the crash but firemen quickly put out the blaze.

"We have been told to prepare for very seriously injured people," Dr. Michael Rudolf of nearby Ealing Hospital said.

"We have ordered extra blood and are preparing extra operating rooms. Our casualty department is ready," he told Sky Television News.

Eyewitness Bobby Thompson from South Africa said: "The shock has not set in yet. It is unbelievable. There were flames but it was not big.

"When the train stopped someone shouted 'Stand still there might be live wires.'"

Another eyewitness, Jane Garvey, said: "I can see bits of twisted metal, which must be carriages, and people's possessions and chairs all over the track. It is total and utter chaos."

Railway officials said the goods train was being shunted into a yard when it was hit by the express. The driver of the freight train walked away unscathed.