A packed commuter train plowed into crash barriers at a London station during Tuesday morning's rush hour, killing at least one person, temporarily trapping dozens in the wreckage and injuring more than 240, British Rail said.

The state-owned rail network said the train's brakes apparently failed."The driver put on the brakes, but the train did not stop," said Chris Jennings of British Rail.

Police declared a "major disaster" at the Cannon Street station in the center of London's financial district as firefighters struggled to free people from the wreckage.

While the three-hour rescue effort was still going on, the London Ambulance Service said eight people trapped in the wreckage were feared dead.

After the last trapped passenger was freed, a British Rail spokesman speaking on condition of anonymity said two people were confirmed dead. But other officials at British Rail said later they could confirm only one dead. There was no immediiate explanation for the discrepancy.

Daniel O'Brien, chief superintendent of British Rail Transport Police, said one person died on the way to the hospital after having been trapped for several hours in one of the train's crushed coaches.

O'Brien said 247 people were injured. Hospital officials said 30 of them were seriously hurt.

The train, which originated in Sevenoaks about 20 miles southeast of London, hit the crash barriers at about 5 mph, British Rail said. A London Ambulance spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said earlier the train appeared to have been going about 20 mph when it hit.

Many of the injured had been standing, ready to get off the train, and were flung about on impact. A spokesman for the opposition Labor Party said the train was overcrowded.

Sirens wailed across the one-square-mile financial district as fleets of ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals. Many had bandaged heads, were tearful and too shocked to speak.

In the station lobby and on the platform, police and ambulance crews provided emergency care for the more seriously hurt, some of whom were bleeding profusely. Officials at St. Bartholemew's hospital said the injured included 30 seriously hurt.

Police cordoned off the surrounding streets and shut the nearby subway station, one of the busiest in the capital.

For three hours after the 8:44 a.m. crash, firemen battled with cutting equipment to rescue passengers trapped in the mangled fifth and sixth cars, which took the brunt of the impact in the 10-car train.