GLENDALE, Calif. - Two Metrolink commuter trains derailed early Wednesday, killing at least four people and injuring hundreds of others as morning commuters were sent tumbling down the aisles, authorities said.
Firefighters picked through twisted wreckage scattered across the tracks and carried injured passengers from the trains to a triage center set up in a nearby parking lot. Four people had died and hundreds were injured, up to 30 critically, Los Angeles Fire Capt. Rex Vilaubi said.
One commuter train was headed from Los Angeles' Union Station to Burbank, and the other was bound from Union Station to Moorpark, Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said.
"We rumbled and we just started to twist," Metrolink passenger Nelson Goyzueta told KNBC-TV. "We're shell-shocked right now."
In a light rain, firefighters climbed ladders into windows of a battered train tipped onto its side, though it was unclear if there were any people trapped inside.
Nearly 300 firefighters were at the scene in the suburb north of Los Angeles and 35 ambulances were taking injured passengers to hospitals, officials said.
Dazed passengers, some limping, gathered at tables in a nearby store, while the injured sprawled on color-coded mats in the parking lot: red for those with severe injuries, green for those less seriously harmed.
One Metrolink car was sent twisting backward by the force of the crash, which occurred after 6 a.m. A small fire erupted, and smoke could be seen wafting from the wreckage.
One of the trains struck a Union Pacific locomotive that was parked on a side track overnight, knocking it over, Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said.
George Touma, 19, of Burbank, said he was called by his mother, who was on one of the Metrolink trains.
"She told me she was bleeding in the head and her arm was really hurting," said Touma, who was searching for her. "I'm really worried because she has vertigo and when I tried to call back she wouldn't answer." He said she told him of hearing "sequential loud noises and then somebody pulled her out of the train while it was burning."
Metrolink began service in 1992 and operates seven lines, part of a multibillion-dollar transportation network aimed at reducing pollution and congestion in Southern California.