BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- A train smashed into a bus loaded with early morning commuters Wednesday, killing at least 43 people and injuring seven others, police said.
Officers said mishap at San Justo, 13 miles west of Buenos Aires, apparently occurred when the bus driver tried to save time by zig-zagging his vehicle around lowered railroadcrossing barriers.
Fifty-one people, most of them going to work in the city, were aboard the bus at the time, police said.
The speeding commuter train rammed into the bus and shoved it 600 feet down the tracks, scattering wreckage and bodies along the way.
Police said most of the passengers died instantly and that those who survived were rushed to local hospitals, where several more died of injuries.
Two bus passengers riding in the doorway saw the train coming and jumped to safety, according to a policeman who saw the accident.
Police from San Justo and nearby La Matanza said at least 43 deaths - all apparently passengers on the bus -- had been confirmed. It was the most serious train-bus accident in Argentine history.
It also was the second such accident in less than a month.
On Oct. 7, 10 people died and 10 others were injured when a bus driver illegally crossed the tracks in the path of an oncoming train in a Buenos Aires suburb.
The state railroad company, Ferrocarriles Argentinos, quoted witnesses as saying the crossing barriers 'were in their normal lowered position' and that the bus driver, who died in the accident, drove his vehicle around the gates in an attempt to beat the train.
Other bus drivers and a newspaper vendor who witnessed the accident disagreed, saying the manually operated barriers were not lowered before the train passed.
The barrier operator, Andres Salinas, was questioned by police along with several other witnesses, including the two passengers who escaped without injuries.
Nearly a dozen ambulances carried away the survivors to nearby hospitals and six local fire departments sent rescue crews to sorted through the tangled wreckage for more than three hours.