Three trains collided in south London at the height of Monday's rush hour, killing dozens of people and injuring more than 100 in a vast tangle of crushed metal.

John Norris, the London Fire Brigade divisional officer, said nine hours after the crash that all the bodies were thought to have been recovered and the death count stood at 35. Police Detective Inspector Barry Webb said another person died in a hospital, bringing the toll to 36. Norris told reporters the death toll had fluctuated during the day because some bodies were dismembered.A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said 115 passengers were hospitalized, 30 with serious injuries. Others were treated where they lay on the ground or in the wreckage, and some people had to have limbs amputated to extricate them.

Lou Gill, the Fire Brigade's chief divisional officer, said all survivors had been removed about five hours after the crash near busy Clapham Junction just before 8 a.m. But he said he feared that when the mangled wreckage was finally cleared "there may be further bodies underneath."

Norris also did not rule out a further increase in the death toll.

Rescue workers used metal cutters to pry open rail cars strewn like matchwood across the tracks. Scores of people suffered minor injuries and were treated on the scene.

Jim Rowe, a spokesman for British Transport Police, said at the scene that about 1,500 people were aboard the 20 passenger carriages involved in the crash.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came out of a meeting in her Cabinet room and told reporters she was grief-stricken. "It brings home to us very much that families have lost some of their dearest people . . . it is even more poignant just coming up to Christmas," she said.

Transport Secretary Paul Chan-non, facing charges of overcrowding trains and cutting safety expenditures, promised the House of Commons an independent public inquiry would be set up.

Rowe said a crowded passenger train traveling at 40 mph to 50 mph slammed into the back of a stationary commuter train about a quarter-mile south of Clapham Junction.

An empty freight train traveling on an adjoining track in the opposite direction then crashed into the spillover wreckage, he said.

"We were going pretty fast, about 70 miles an hour," said Greg Ford, 28, who was on the passenger train. "It went `bang,' and that was it. We were all over the place."

Roy Daniel, 37, was in the buffet car when "the train started stopping and we started falling on top of each other. We came to a stop and the (buffet) counter was sort of lodged on top of us. That saved us."

Chris Reeves, 38, of Southampton, also was in the buffet car. He said he saw "furniture and enormous lumps of metal flying everywhere."

"The whole of the buffet car disintegrated," Reeves said. "The roof split open like a ripe tomato and that's how we got out."

The crash was British Rail's worst since October 1952 when 112 were killed and 349 injured in a three-train pile-up at Harrow.

Forty-three people were killed when a London underground train smashed into a wall at Moorgate State in the capital in 1975.

Britain suffered another transport disaster in November 1987 when fire raged through Kings Cross station - London's busiest underground interchange - killing 31 people.