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Fire, Not Crash, Blamed for Most Deaths on Train

February 20, 1996| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Eight of 11 people killed in the crash of a commuter train and an Amtrak passenger train died of burns and smoke inhalation, not from the impact of the crash, a medical examiner said Monday.

The disclosure focused renewed interest on reports from survivors about jammed exit doors and windows aboard the commuter train. It also raised questions about Amtrak's use of an older model locomotive with diesel tanks susceptible to rupture.

The Maryland Rail Commuter train smashed into the lead Amtrak locomotive at an angle during a snowstorm Friday in Silver Spring, Md. The collision punched a hole in the locomotive's side and ruptured a fuel tank. Burning fuel oil engulfed both the locomotive and the lead commuter car.

All 11 of those who were killed--eight Job Corps trainees and three MARC crewmen--were inside the lead commuter car.

The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to determine the cause of the crash. It is concentrating on the track's signal system and whether the MARC train's engineer noticed a yellow warning light three miles before the crash.

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