The bus was apparently stationary on the tracks when the 52-carriage train slammed into it in Biloxi on Tuesday, police said. The driver bailed out and ran down the road to warn the engineer of an approaching freight train, but the train still plowed into the stranded semi and pushed it about 70 to 80 feet before stopping, the statement said.
Rescuers have been removing trapped passengers through emergency windows, and at least one person has been taken to hospital by air ambulance.
Charter buses carrying retirees visiting Biloxi's eight gambling casinos are common sights in the city, but it's unclear whether the Bastrop-originating bus was on such an outing.
In 2013, a bus that picked up passengers from the Bastrop Senior Center crashed near Lake Charles, Louisiana on another casino trip.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are heading to Biloxi right now to investigate Tuesday's tragedy on the railroad tracks. Kemp said he thought they had likely been trying to get off the bus at the time.
The CSX train was traveling east when it hit the bus a few hours ago.
The train company says their crew was not injured in the crash.
The company's lawyer said officials were working on a response, but declined to comment further.
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"They [the bus passengers] didn't start crying and screaming until we started moving them", he said.
The train was traveling at around 19 miles per hour when it struck the bus and pushed the crowded vehicle some 200 feet down the tracks, the NTSB says.
"We recommended that buses not use that particular crossing", Rhodes said. We don't know if there were mechanical issues or what was taking place'.
"I didn't know what to expect, but as soon as I got there, a police officer took me to some people who were on the ground". The crash occurred at the Main Street crossing, which has flashing lights and crossing gates, CSX said in a statement.
City officials said Tuesday that the tour bus was transporting 48 people, who were headed to Boomtown Biloxi Casion from Bay St. Louis.
Creel says as many as 50 people were on the bus.
One witness told the paper the bus was hit about five to 10 minutes after it had became stuck on the tracks.