Lumberton, NC Train Wreck, Dec 1943
Seventy-Nine Known Killed in Lumberton Train Crash.
Workers Seeking Other Bodies With Torch.
Lumberton, Dec. 17. -- (AP) - The toll of dead in the Southeast's worst railroad disaster mounted to 79 today, including 47 soldiers, as more bodies were located in four telescoped passenger, cars that still blocked the Atlantic Coast Line's double-track mainline from New York to Florida.
The Red Cross at Atlanta said bodies of 47 soldiers and 20 civilians had been recovered and that seven more bodies were known to be in one of the cars and five in another.
The four steel cars, stacked one on the other, were so jammed together that they were little bigger than one car is normally. The wrecking trains were able to move the pyramided coaches only six feet all night.
The double pileup of the two crack flyers produced a death list just short of that in the wreck of the Congressional Limited in Philadelphia last September when 80 persons lost their lives.
The Southeastern seaboard's worst previous train wreck occurred at Rockmart, Ga., in 1926, when 20 were killed. The biggest wreck toll in the nation's railroad history is 145 killed at Nashville, Tenn., July 9, 1918.
Workers toiled throughout the night and continued today in 12 degree weather to clear the tracks and remove the dead.
C. G. Sibley, vice-president of the Coast Line, today put the time of the derailment of No. 91, the southbound train, at 12:50 a. m. Northbound Train No. 8 struck the derailed cars between 1:25 and 1:30 a. m., Sibley said,
"Our information is that the fireman on Train 91 went ahead of his train to flag the northbound train, but did not succeed in stopping the train with his red lantern," the spokesman said in a statement. "He had a fuse but he stumbled and fell and it brake [sic] and he used his lantern."
"The engineer on No. 8 evidently did not see the fireman's signal. We understand that the sleet and snowstorm was still in progress at that time. The flagman on 91 went back to protect trains following on the southward track."
"A formal investigation will be held to develop the facts with respect to the action of the crews of both trains."
Earlier, the toll of dead - 48 servicemen and 21 civilians - was announced by Atlantic Coast Line railroad headquarters at Wilmington. Upwards of 50 persons were injured, many seriously.
Enough of the mass of telescoped cars and twisted rails was expected to be moved today to permit resumption of normal traffic.
Some civilians dead were still unidentified. Witnesses said a few victims were so dismembered it would be difficult to establish identity.
Names of the soldier dead were withheld pending notification of kin.
A broken rail, A.C.L. Officials said, caused the first wreck -- the derailment of three coaches of the Florida-bound Tamiami West Coast Champion. One person, First Lt. ROY A GRIFFIN, a student chaplain at Harvard university, was killed in this wreck.
Continued on Page 2.