A passenger train was partially derail in Iran’s eastern Iran on Wednesday morning, killing at most 17 and injuring 50 others, officials said.
Although the report indicated that the death toll could increase, initial details regarding the train accident which allegedly killed 350 people remain unclear.
Iranian state TV reported that four of seven cars were lost in the derailment of the train near Tabas in the morning darkness. Tabas lies approximately 550 km (340 mi) southwest of Tehran, the capital.
The remote location is not easily accessible by helicopters or ambulances. Rescue crews arrived on the scene with helicopters as well as helicopters. Officials said that more than a dozen victims sustained critical injuries and were being transferred to nearby hospitals.
Iranian media quotes Ali Akbar Rahimi as saying that at least 17 were killed in the accident and that it is possible for more people to die as rescuers try to find the train cars.
An aerial view of the site showed trains cars and rescuers on the other side of the accident.
Images from the hospital were later broadcast on state TV. A witness to the accident said they felt the train suddenly slow and brake before it veered off course.
“Passengers were bouncing in the car like balls in the air,” said the injured passenger, whom state TV did not identify.
This derailment occurred approximately 50km (30 miles) away from Tabas along the train that connects Tabas to Yazd.
According to the report, an investigation is underway into the cause of the accident. Initial reports suggested the train collided with an excavator near the track, though it wasn’t immediately clear why an excavator would have been close to the train track at night. Officials suggest that it was part of a project to repair the track.
Iran’s worst train disaster came in 2004, when a runaway train loaded with gasoline, fertilizer, sulfur and cotton crashed near the historic city of Neyshabur, killing some 320 people, injuring 460 others and damaging five villages. In 2016, another train accident resulted in the deaths of dozens of people and injured scores more.
Iran is home to 14,000km (8.700 miles) worth of rail lines. This country covers an area about twice the size Texas. Iran’s rail network transports goods and people across the country. This is especially true in rural areas.
Iran also has some 17,000 annual deaths on its highways, one of the world’s worst traffic safety records. It is attributed to widespread neglect of traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and insufficient emergency services.
Iran, already straining under U.S. sanctions over its collapsed nuclear deal, has been mourning the deaths of at least 41 people killed in a building collapse in the country’s southwest.
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