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4 KILLED AS TRAIN HITS PARADE VETS; Military truck smashed on crossing.

Byline: RORY TEVLIN news@irishmirror.ie

FOUR people were killed and 17 injured when a freight train smashed into a trailer carrying US Army veterans.

Hundreds of people witnessed the tragedy as the wounded servicemen and their partners travelled through Midland, Texas.

Witnesses described how the Union Pacific blared its horn before slamming into the flatbed truck.

The float carrying more than 20 people was on its way to the annual veterans' honorary banquet when disaster struck.

Two people were killed at the scene and another two died in the hospital. An early investigation has indicated the crossing gate and lights at the junction were working.

As the train approached the soldiers and their relatives desperately scrambled to get off the float before the train hit.

Witness Patricia Howle told how she screamed as she sat in her car and watched the horror unfold.

She said: "I was on the phone, and I just started screaming.

"The truck was on the other side of the train, but I did see the panic on the faces of the people and saw some of them jump off."

Six people were still in hospital last night as a further 11 discharged after treatment.

Police said the first truck safely crossed the railroad tracks but the second was still on the crossing as the train approached. Local man Daniel Quinonez told how the train honked its horn to warn the group as it closed in on the junction.

He added: "The 18-wheeler could not go anywhere because of the other one being right in front of it.

"It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me.

"I just saw the people on the semi-truck's trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer.

"But it was too late because the train impacted on the trailer so fast."

An investigation has now been launched.

A spokesman for Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragic accident in Midland.

CAPTION(S):

EMERGENCY Police and ambulances at crash site in Midland, Texas

RESCUE Firefighters survey the scene

WRECKAGE J Flatbed truck which was hit by freight train
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 17, 2012
Words:359
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