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Death Toll at 18 in Metrolink Crash, Expected to Rise

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At least 18 were killed and 135 injured (about 100 of those were taken to hospitals) in yesterday's head-on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a freight train in Chatsworth, according to officials. The death toll was expected to rise as heavy equipment lifts the downed locomotive this morning, said Metrolink spokesperson Denise Tyrrell.

Metrolink train 111 bound from Union Station to Oxnard, carrying 225 people, collided with the freight train (4 Union Pacific employees were on board) at 4:23 p.m. on a 45-degree bend of single-track on the Ventura County route in Chatsworth. Los Angeles police Officer Spree Desha, 35, was among those killed in the crash.

The crash was the deadliest Metrolink incident, surpassing the 11 killed in Atwater Village in 2005, and was the deadliest crash in the U.S. since 1993, when an Amtrak train plunged into an Alabama bayou.

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See the latest AP video report below and photos from the scene by LAist's Zach Behrens here.

About 250 fire department personnel and 200 police officers were on the scene before dawn.

According to emergency response agencies, injured Metrolink passengers are being transported to the following hospitals: UCLA Medical Center
Northridge Medical Center
Holy Cross Medical Center
Mission Hills Hospital

Family members of passengers on board train 111, please call (800) 371-LINK for information.

L.A. Fire Dept. has released the following two numbers to call for information on hospital patients:
(213) 847-2117 and (213) 847-2118 -- Metrolink website (7:21 a.m.)

AP photo by Reed Saxon