Eli Dassa  /  AP
An aerial view of the rescue operations at the site of a derailed train near Netanya, Israel, on Monday. Dozens were injured in the wreck.
updated 6/12/2006 3:34:39 PM ET 2006-06-12T19:34:39

A crowded commuter train derailed Monday after slamming into a pickup truck at a crossing in central Israel, killing five people and injuring 77, officials said.

The locomotive and three of the train’s six cars derailed. The crash was believed to be an accident and not a terrorist attack.

Dozens of rescue workers swarmed the scene, some using ladders to enter the derailed cars and others prying open a car’s roof and side. Rescue workers clambered in carrying oxygen tanks and water.

All five of the dead had been trapped inside one car, rescue service spokesman Yeruham Mendola said.

Most of the injuries were slight. Ten of the hurt people were hospitalized and expected to survive, rescue officials said.

Details of the passengers’ nationalities were not immediately released but virtually all aboard appeared to be Israeli.

Police said the pickup truck stopped at a train crossing and was pushed onto the tracks when another vehicle hit it from behind. The pickup truck’s driver got out and tried to alert Israel Railways about the vehicle on the tracks but was unable to avert the wreck, local media reported.

The train, carrying 200 passengers and traveling at high speed, crashed to a stop several hundred yards from the crossing after slamming into the side of a small hill covered with eucalyptus trees.

A witness in a nearby passenger car, who identified herself only as Miri, told Israel Radio that “the train just continued plowing ahead with the truck, and the truck was crushed.”

Twisted metal, downed trees and tipped train cars were scattered around the scene. One of the derailed cars lay diagonally across the tracks.

The crushed pickup truck came to a rest yards away, near several seats thrown from the train. A bulldozer razed trees and bushes by the crash site to let rescue vehicles move closer.

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