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Coroner identifies two Amtrak workers killed in collision

Amtrak Train 91 was carrying 139 passengers and eight crew members to Miami from New York when it hit the freight train at about 2:35 a.m. local time (0735 GMT) near Columbia, South Carolina’s state capital, and derailed, the railroad said in a statement.

Killed were Amtrak’s engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, of Orange Park, Florida, Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said on Sunday. Autopsies are under way, she said at a news conference.

The area has three rows of tracks, and the freight train was parked on a “loading track or a side track” and “not the main track,” Governor Henry McMaster said.

The southbound passenger train’s locomotive was lying on its side, and the first car was bent and also derailed, although it remained upright, according to images from the scene in the small city of Cayce, South Carolina.

At least four cars of the freight train, which was northbound before it was parked, were crumpled but remained on the tracks.

The passenger train was part of Amtrak’ Silver Star Service, and the wreck occurred about 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Columbia. Officials said some 5,000 gallons of fuel leaked as a result of the collision, but it was under control and no threat to public safety.

The number of injured rose to 116 from a previous count of 70, said Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill.

U.S. President Donald Trump was getting regular updates on the crash while at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida. “My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims involved in this mornings train collision in South Carolina,” he tweeted. “Thank you to our incredible First Responders for the work they’ve done!”

In December, three people were killed when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state. The engineer later told the NTSB he had misread a signal and tried to brake before the accident.

In late January, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of the U.S. Congress killed one person in a garbage truck with which it collided in Virginia.

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