REVADIM, Israel – A passenger train plowed into a coal truck Tuesday and sent three cars tumbling off the tracks in a sunflower field in southern Israel (search), killing seven people and injuring nearly 200 in one of Israel's worst train accidents.
The mangled cars were strewn around the field, far from main roads and cities. Dozens of passengers were thrown from the somersaulting cars.
In a country traumatized by mass casualties after four years of Palestinian bombings, officials emphasized that the collision was an accident, not a terror attack.
The comparisons were obvious. Dudi Greenwald, a medic who called Israel Radio (search) from the scene, said he had treated casualties at several bombings.
"It's a horrible sight. It looks like a terror attack," he said.
"One of the railroad cars is upside down, and it's impossible to tell what's inside," he added. "It's the worst accident I've ever seen."
The coal truck the train hit weighed about 40 tons. Army Radio said the driver had been working for 30 hours straight. Police commanders said they had started an investigation of the crash.
At least 62 ambulances arrived at the scene near the village of Revadim, about 25 miles south of Tel Aviv (search). Helicopters arrived to help transport the injured, and rescuers climbed over the train seats in their efforts to pull out the survivors.
"Hospitals are responding as if it was a terror attack with multiple victims," Health Minister Dan Naveh told Israel's Channel 2 TV.
The passenger train, carrying 300 to 400 people from Tel Aviv to the southern city of Beersheba, was traveling as fast as 80 mph when it hit the truck. The crossing had no traffic light, said Avi Zohar, a Magen David Adom rescue service spokesman.
"We felt really helpless. All we could see around us was fields. We had no idea where we were," Daphna Arad, a reporter for Army Radio who was on the train, told Israel's Channel 2. "Soldiers [who had been on the train] took out their bandages and began to treat the injured as much as possible," she said.
"I approached a woman who looked all right but had slipped on the floor, and she said she was pregnant and was very worried about her baby. I looked for an old man who had been sitting next to me and I saw that half his head was coated in blood," she said.
Media reports compared the accident to a 1982 wreck in which 50 children were killed when a train hit their bus, which had stalled on the track.