2 People Die When High-Speed Train Derails in Italy — and Survivor Details Escape from Hole
A larger tragedy was avoided, says a police spokesperson: "It could have been a blood bath"
At least two people are dead and some 28 were left injured after a high-speed passenger train derailment in Italy, multiple outlets reported.
At about 5:30 a.m. local time Thursday, the train — which was moving about 180 miles per hour — derailed in the Lodi province when its engine detached and made impact with a work train car on another track, according to the Associated Press.
The rogue engine also flipped over and knocked down part of a nearby building’s wall, the AP reported. Two railway workers reportedly died in the accident.
The train was making the trip from Milan to Salerno, according to The New York Times.
A railroad police official told reporters that work was being conducted overnight at that portion of the track, according to the AP. However, it was not immediately clear if the work played into the derailing.
According to the Times, a local police spokesperson told Italian news agency ANSA that a larger tragedy was avoided because the early-morning trip wasn’t crowded, adding that there “shouldn’t be any more deaths” reported in this case.
“It could have been a blood bath,” Marcello Cardona, of the police force in Lodi, reportedly said. “Luckily, only a few people were traveling on the first two carriages of the train.”
The high-speed commuting service is popular in the European country, the AP noted, and is used by tourists and locals journeying from northern and southern Italy. Other trains were diverted to alternative tracks, causing minor delays.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories
One survivor of the deadly derailment — the cause of which is currently under investigation — told a local newspaper that they and a friend had to escape through a hole in the wreckage.
“I thought I was dead. I closed my eyes and prayed,” the passenger said, according to BBC News. “The train was going very fast … [then] suddenly, I felt a violent blow, a really loud roar.”
According to the AP, train cars near the back did not flip over, and officials believe the engine car may have automatically detached to prevent the rest of the cars from going with it.