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Argentine train slams into station, killing 49

Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

Rescue workers extracted a passenger from the train after the crash at rush hour in Buenos Aires yesterday.

BUENOS AIRES - A train packed with morning commuters slammed into a downtown station yesterday, killing 49 people and injuring hundreds as passenger cars crumpled and windows exploded around them. It was Argentina’s worst train accident in decades.

The cause was not yet determined, but many pointed to a deteriorating rail system. Some passengers reported signs the conductor was struggling with the brakes before the crash, saying he kept overshooting platforms and even missed one.

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The dead included 48 adults and one child. Some 600 people were injured, including 461 who were hospitalized, Transportation Secretary J.P. Schiavi said.

Hours after the crash, passengers’ relatives gathered at the morgue, anxious for word of their loved ones.

Ezekiel Mercado said he and his mother-in-law had been frantically searching for his wife, Sabrina Espindola, 29. They checked nine hospitals before heading to the morgue, he said.

“I went everywhere. She is always with her BlackBerry,’’ he said. “This morgue is the last place I thought of, but, well, she’s missing. I call her cellphone, and it rings, rings, but she isn’t responding.’’

The 28-year-old conductor survived the crash; the motorman was hospitalized in intensive care, Schiavi added.

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