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Image: Amtrak workers examine a train collision at an Oakland, Calif., station on Wednesday
Noah Berger  /  AP
Amtrak workers examine a train collision at an Oakland, Calif., station on Wednesday. A fire official said one train was unloading passengers when the second train ran into it at an estimated speed of 15 to 20 miles per hour.
msnbc.com news services
updated 10/13/2011 6:22:56 AM ET 2011-10-13T10:22:56

An Amtrak train crashed into another train unloading passengers in an Oakland station late Wednesday, injuring at least 16 people, authorities said.

The train was traveling an estimated 15 to 20 miles per hour when it struck the stationary Amtrak passenger train about 10 p.m., said Oakland Fire Department battalion chief Emon Usher.

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

Usher said the company told him that train went through a red light.

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

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

The San Joaquin ran head-on into the Coast Starlight train, Cole said.

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.

The Associated Press put the number of injured at 16, but Reuters quoted Usher as saying 18 people were hurt, including one person who suffered a broken arm.

Usher said a mixture of passengers and crew members suffered minor injuries. "None of them are considered to be life-threatening," he added.

Usher said about 40 to 45 emergency personnel responded to the accident.

Image: Paramedics transport an Amtrak passenger to a hospital after two trains collided at an Oakland, Calif., station on Wednesday
Noah Berger  /  AP
Paramedics transport an Amtrak passenger to a hospital after two trains collided at an Oakland, Calif., station on Wednesday.

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

The San Joaquin train had eight passengers, while there were 137 passengers on the Coast Starlight train, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said.

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

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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

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

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

On Sept. 30, 37 passengers and two crew members suffered minor to moderate injuries when an Amtrak passenger 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.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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