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BILOXI, Miss. — A freight train smashed into a charter bus yesterday, pushing the bus 300 feet down the tracks and leaving at least three people dead, authorities said. Rescuers spent more than an hour removing passengers, cutting through the heavily damaged bus to extract the last two.

The bus could be seen straddling the tracks, with a CSX Transportation locomotive pushed up against its left side. The bus was apparently stopped on the tracks when the 52-car train, pulled by three locomotives, slammed into it, said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller.

“We don’t know if there were mechanical issues or what was taking place,” he said.

Passengers on the Echo Transportation bus had come from Austin, Texas, he said, carrying passengers to one of Biloxi’s eight casinos. Ameet Patel of Penn National Gaming, owner of Hollywood Gulf Coast Casino in Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi Casino, said the bus was traveling from the Hollywood casino to the Boomtown casino.

Three people died and 35 people were injured and taken to area hospitals, said Fire Chief Joe Boney. Earlier, Boney had said that four people died.

Witnesses told the Sun Herald of Biloxi that the bus was stuck on the tracks for about five minutes before the train hit it. Mark Robinson said some people were getting off the bus as the driver tried to move it, and at least one person was shoved under the bus when the train hit. A nearby car was used as a stepladder after the crash to get people off the bus, and emergency workers pulled passengers through windows. — AP


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