Crash Kills Two, Injures Dozens in Mexico

LUCIO BLANCO, Mexico (AP) -- A small settlement near a bridge to the United States was reduced to little more than rubble when a tanker truck collided with a train, killing two people and injuring at least 44.

Witnesses said they heard two large explosions Thursday followed by a series of smaller ones, with gusts of fire ripping through cement-wall homes and blasting off corrugated metal roofing.

''It was like an earthquake,'' said Jorge Batres, describing how flames spread to nearby cars, shops and houses.

The truck owned by Techno Gas of Monterrey, Mexico, was hauling two tank loads of liquid petroleum gas. Witnesses say the truck failed to stop when the train sounded.

Orlando Garcia, director of emergency services for Matamoros, Mexico, said the driver of the truck and the train's engineer died. He said the most severely injured were taken to hospitals in Monterrey. Others were taken to hospitals in Matamoros and across the border to Harlingen, Texas. It took several hours to find all the injured.

Teresa Guerrero said her sister, Nancy, was working at a nearby gas station when a fireball erupted. Her sister tried to flee, but she was burned on her arms, feet, back and hair.

With no water lines, Texas fire crews had to ferry water trucks back and forth to a hydrant near the international bridge at Los Indios, filling portable tanks to keep the hose filled.

Mexican crews worked the southern side of the wreck.

''It's a mutual aid agreement, we help each other out,'' said Joseph Horn of the Brownsville Fire Department.

At least a dozen structures were gutted by the blasts, with blackened stoves and wash tubs left standing amid crumbling walls.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press