LONDON -- A high-speed passenger train collided with a Land Rover, derailed and smashed into an oncoming freight train in northern England Wednesday morning, killing 13 people.
More than 70 other people were injured, Transport Police Inspector Ian Griffiths told reporters, as rescue workers continued to struggle to free passengers trapped in the mangled wreckage at Great Heck, a village about 200 miles north of London.
Mangled coaches lay in a muddy field below the railway embankment. The freight train was partially derailed with its front end completely off the track and lying on its side. It had slid into the back garden of a house, crushing a trailer.
Janine Edwards, 22, who was riding in the middle of the passenger train, said she heard "screaming and shouting and the lights went out.
"I held onto the table in front of me and then there was a huge impact. My carriage was on its side. I was lucky, I was still in my seat, clinging to the table. But one lady, who was traveling with her daughter, had been flung into the air and was lying in the next corridor. Her leg was trapped.
"The man opposite me was streaming with blood. The window next to him was smashed and the frame had come out and hit him. His wife sitting next to him was covered in his blood," Edwards said
The accident -- the fourth fatal crash in 3 1/2 years -- was certain to raise new questions about the safety of the beleaguered British rail system, even though there was no early indication that engineer error or equipment failure had played a role.
Police were investigating how the Land Rover and trailer veered off a highway and on to a rail line. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle and phone police, but too late to stop the passenger train approaching at about 120 mph.
The passenger train derailed after hitting the Land Rover, but remained upright and was still moving forward until it slammed into an oncoming coal train.
"It's like a scene from a bomb explosion. The carnage is appalling," said Nigel Metcalfe, spokesman for North Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
He said rescuers reported hearing mobile phones ringing inside the cars.
"One coach was badly crushed. We fear there will be serious casualties inside that coach," said Bob Schofield, spokesman for the National Health Service.
Mike Playforth, an accident and emergency consultant at Pontefract General Infirmary, said 31 people had been admitted to the hospital, and three had critical injuries.
About 100 people were aboard the train, according to Great North Eastern Railways.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.