- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An Amtrak train crashed into another train unloading passengers in an Oakland station, leaving 16 people with mainly minor injuries, authorities said.

The crash occurred about 10 p.m. Wednesday as the passenger train, traveling an estimated 15 to 20 mph, struck the stationary Amtrak train, said Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Emon Usher.

Chief Usher said the company told him that the train had gone through a red light.

“According to the Amtrak representative, the train traveling should have never have continued past the red signal,” Chief Usher told the Associated Press.

“It’s an equivalent to a red light,” he said.

Most of the injuries were minor, but several people were taken to local hospitals, Chief Usher said.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said he could not comment on the report of the train running a red light. He described the crash as a “low-speed” collision between Amtrak’s San Joaquin, a train that operates between Bakersfield, Calif., and Oakland, and the Coast Starlight, a train from Los Angeles to Seattle

He said the wheels of each lead engine went off the track.

Authorities said there were injured on both trains, but there was no breakdown on how many from each.

Alton Smith, a passenger on one of the trains, told television station KTVU that he felt “an awful jolt” from the impact.

Another person, identified by television station CBS5 as Miesha Anderson, told the station that she heard “a big bang, like a bomb.” She told the TV station that she thought a forklift had hit the train.

“We didn’t even think that another train had hit the train,” she said.

About two hours after the crash, about 50 passengers were gathered inside the train terminal and talking to Amtrak officials, while Amtrak and local officials inspected the two trains.

There was no immediate word on what caused the crash, which is under investigation.

Amtrak officials said train traffic has been suspended temporarily at the station.

Passengers who paid for travel on canceled trains can contact Amtrak to receive refunds without fee or penalty, according to Amtrak.

The crash is the second significant incident in two weeks in the San Francisco Bay area in which there were injuries to Amtrak passengers.

On Sept. 30, 37 passengers and two crew members suffered minor to moderate injuries when an Amtrak  train collided with a truck at a crossing near Brentwood where there were no lights or gates.

The driver of the truck and a passenger inside were not hurt.

AP broadcaster Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.

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