By Paul Foy
WENDOVER, Utah – An Amtrak train crashed into a freight train, derailed and caught fire Thursday, but the passengers escaped without serious injury, officials said.
Six were taken to hospitals, mostly for treatment of broken bones and smoke inhalation.
The train was the California Zephyr heading from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., said Amtrak spokeswoman Cheryle Jackson in Chicago. Amtrak said 263 passengers and 14 crew members were on board. Two locomotives were pulling 15 cars, including seven passenger cars.
Three people were taken by helicopter to Salt Lake hospitals and three others were taken by ambulance. One person had head and chest injuries, but those injuries didn’t appear to be critical, said Anne Brillinger, a spokeswoman for the University of Utah Health Sciences Center.
The uninjured passengers were being put on board buses, Jackson said.
Wendover is in west-central Utah on the Nevada line, about 120 miles west of Salt Lake City.
The accident happened east of Wendover at about 5:30 a.m. in a desolate area of salt flats and desert when the Amtrak train hit a Union Pacific freight train. Both were derailed, but all the cars remained upright, Amtrak said.
Smoke billowed from one of the cars three hours after the accident, but no flames could be seen.
Amtrak is an alternative for people wanting to travel across the country two days after terrorist attacks in New York and Washington closed airports.
Amtrak’s number for family members seeking information is 800-523-9101.
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