South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the Amtrak passenger train appeared to be on the wrong track when colliding with a CSX freight train in the southern U.S. state early Sunday, leaving at least two people dead and 70 injured.
"They weren't supposed to be meeting like that, clearly," he said at a press conference. "It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track."
It seems the CSX train was on the track it was supposed to be on, the governor added.
"Our information - and this is subject to correction - is that this was not the main (train) line," McMaster said. "This was a loading track for a sidetrack - where the collision took place."
The CSX train was parked on what appears to be a side track when the Amtrak train, heading from New York to Miami, slammed into it at about 59 mph, he said, describing the freight train engines as "all torn up" and the Amtrak engine as "barely recognizable" from the crash.
The two dead were Amtrak employees on the passenger train, according to McMaster.
Among the injured, one was in critical condition, two were listed as serious, while the others having minor injuries like cuts and bruises, said Steve Shelton, Palmetto health director of emergency preparedness.
Earlier, local authorities said about 5,000 gallons of fuel were spilled following the train crash.
However, there was "no threat to the public at the time." said Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill.
Amtrak said in a statement that the collision took place around 2:35 a.m. in Cayce, South Carolina.
"The lead engine derailed, as well as some passenger cars," the statement said. "There were 8 crew members and approximately 139 passengers, with injuries reported."
It is the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak in less than two months. Late last year, an Amtrak train derailed in northwestern U.S. state of Washington, killing three people and injured dozens. Last week, an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in Virginia, leaving one dead and two seriously injured.