By Matthew Haag
A freight train slammed into a charter bus full of people in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least four people onboard and injuring many more, the authorities said.
The charter bus, which was near its destination in Biloxi on a trip from Austin, Texas, appeared to have gotten stuck on the railroad at a crossing and could not move before the train hit it, according to the Biloxi Police Department. About 50 people were on the bus when the crash occurred, around 2:12 p.m., and every passenger appeared to have some injuries, said the police chief, John Miller.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Miller said at a news conference, adding that the accident was the worst of its kind that he could recall in Biloxi. “It is a terrible, chaotic scene right now, but we have it under control.”
A witness who called 911 and ran to the accident described a horrific sight: the locomotive, still running, tearing into the driver’s side of the bus and knocking people out of their seats.
“I went out there, and I started hearing sirens,” said Bradley Raye, a manager at Hammett’s Auto Electric, which is on Main Street, about 200 feet from where the accident occurred. “I saw a few body parts.”
Passengers on the bus, which was operated by the Texas-based Echo Transportation, said they were traveling from Austin, according to Miller. He added that they could have been on their way to one of the nearby casinos.
John Ferrari, the chief executive of the TBL Group, which operates Echo Transportation, said he was still gathering information about the crash.
The freight train, which was operated by CSX, was en route to Mobile, Alabama, from New Orleans and had three locomotives and 52 cars, the company said. No one on the train was injured.
“Our thoughts are with all involved,” the company said in a statement.
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