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1950

Train topples off bridge in Brazil, killing 110

A train drops off a bridge in Tangua, Brazil, killing 110 people on this day in 1950. Twenty-two cars made up the Leopoldina Railways train that departed Rio de Janeiro for Victoria, Espirito Santo. The passenger cars were filled with people vacationing over the Easter holidays. The train left after midnight and had gone almost 60 miles when it approached the bridge over the Indios River at about 1:30 a.m.

The river, swollen from days of torrential rains in the area, had undermined the bridge s foundation, but there was no warning system to stop the train from attempting to cross the bridge. As it was about halfway across, the locomotive and five cars–two carrying only baggage–plunged into the river. The remaining 17 cars somehow managed to stay on the tracks despite the connected cars being dragged into the river.

There were 200 passengers in the cars that went into the river on the dark, rainy night; with little chance of rescue, about 90 of them were able to swim their way to safety. The rest drowned or were swept away by the river s swift current. With the rains continuing, it was nearly impossible to access the area and it was not until days later that rescue teams were finally able to pull the train cars out of the river.

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