Two Killed, Nine Injured in Head-On Train Collision in Chile

A tragic head-on collision between a freight train and another train on a test run occurred Thursday, claiming the lives of two rail workers and injuring nine others. The incident, a rare fatal crash in Chile, took place just outside of Santiago.

Police are investigating the cause of the collision, which left the test car perched atop the freight train. Authorities have detained the driver of the test train and a railway operator for questioning on charges of reckless manslaughter.

Images and videos from the scene reveal one carriage dramatically tilted high in the air above the mangled cargo train. The crash site was a scene of chaos, with two dozen emergency vehicles and helicopters converging on the twisted wreckage in San Bernardo, a district just south of Santiago. Train service in Santiago remains suspended following the incident.

The eight-car freight train, carrying 1,346 tons of copper, Chile’s primary export, had personnel onboard, while the other train had 10 workers conducting a speed test, according to the state rail company.

Security footage shows both trains traveling at high speed before the collision. The reason for the test train not receiving an alert about the approaching freight train remains unclear.

“We need to identify the causes and take the necessary measures,” Transportation Minister Juan Carlos Muñoz stated to The Associated Press.

The two individuals killed in the crash have been identified as crew members on the freight train. Nine others were injured, including four Chinese nationals operating the test train. Authorities reported that six people remain hospitalized, with one in critical condition.

Recent heavy rains have battered Chile, causing widespread flooding that submerged hundreds of homes and displaced thousands. While the downpour had largely subsided in Santiago on Thursday, it appears to have played no role in the collision.

Train crashes have become an infrequent occurrence in Chile. Following a 2001 collision between a passenger train and a bus that resulted in 20 fatalities and numerous injuries, the government significantly enhanced its safety protocols. Since then, the country has not witnessed a fatal train crash. However, four derailments and other accidents over the past two decades have resulted in injuries to dozens of people.