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Commuter train crash kills 3, injures more than 200 near Buenos Aires

Firefighters worked to rescue commuters trapped in one of two trains involved in a crash.

Associated Press

Firefighters worked to rescue commuters trapped in one of two trains involved in a crash.

BUENOS AIRES — One commuter train slammed into another that had stopped between stations during the morning commute Thursday in suburban Buenos Aires, killing three passengers and injuring more than 200 on a line that has been under government control since a crash last year killed 51 people.

The state-run train agency dismissed possible brake failure as a cause and suggested the conductor was at fault.

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Satellite images show the train had braked normally at the previous station, and then rolled past four functioning warning signals without stopping before crash, the agency said. ‘‘Before a warning signal, the conductor should completely stop the formation, a situation that did not happen,’’ the agency said.

The conductor and his assistant survived but are not able to communicate, Transportation Minister Florencio Randazzo said, asking for patience while authorities investigate.

The rail line links the Argentine capital’s densely populated western suburbs to the downtown Once station.

Witnesses described the impact as ‘‘explosive,’’ shaking the walls of nearby homes and derailing several of the train cars. Some passengers were able to stumble out of the wreckage and walk along the tracks in the predawn darkness; many others waited for rescue workers to pull them out.

At least five of the more than 200 injured were in very serious condition, and one youth’s leg had to be amputated, Governor Daniel Scioli said after visiting some victims.

Union leader Ruben Sobrero said the train should not have been brought into service. It had been in the shop for six months, then brought online, only to be withdrawn again because of brake problems, he said.

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