At least 4 people are known to have died and dozens were injured after a freight train slammed into a coach carrying 43 pensioners in Biloxi, Mississippi at 2.15pm local time on Tuesday (7 March). The coach from Austin, Texas was travelling to one of the town's casinos when it reportedly became stuck on the track at Main Street in the centre of downtown Biloxi.

The CSX-operated freight train was travelling east from New Orleans at the time of the crash. Crew on board the train were not injured. The coach was dragged up to 300 feet down the tracks and rescuers were still cutting people from the wreckage 30 minutes after the initial collision. Biloxi police chief John Miller said at a press conference it was a "terrible, chaotic scene."

"I just want everyone to know that we're doing everything we can do to help everyone on that bus," said Chief Miller. "It's a terrible tragedy and I know there's a lot of families that are going to be impacted."

Eye-witnesses said the bus had been stuck on the track for up to 10 minutes before it was hit, with people attempting to disembark as the huge train bore down. The reason for the breakdown isn't yet known. One witness, Craig Robinson, told the local Sun Herald: "My first instinct was to get down there and tell people to get off the bus, but by the time I got there the train had already hit it."

The single track CSX mainline runs along the coast of southern Mississippi. According to local media this was the second time in two months a train hit a vehicle in Biloxi. In the previous incident on 5th January, another CSX train hit a delivery truck on a crossing but no-one was injured.

Biloxi level crossing
The level crossing in Biloxi where a train smashed into a coach (file pic) Google Streetview