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43 killed in Iran train collision

A train collision in northern Iran has killed at least 43 people and injured 100, state media reported.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Mostafa Mortazavi, a spokesman for the country's Red Crescent, as saying the latest casualty figures had risen to 43 killed in the accident that occurred in sub-zero temperatures when a moving passenger train struck another parked at Haftkhan station about 150 miles east of the capital Tehran.

The report said four of the fatalities were railway employees who were on the two trains when the accident occurred, near the city of Semnan.

The report said four carriages derailed and two caught fire. It showed footage of rescue teams working near burning carriages.

Provincial governor Mohammad Reza Khabbaz said the cause of the accident was under investigation and that the parked train was apparently not inside the station but on a main rail line at the time of the collision.

The IRNA report said the 100 people who were injured in the collision were all in hospital. It said many of them had only sustained minor injuries.

President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement offering his condolences to the victims' families and assigned senior vice-president Eshagh Janahgiri to lead an investigation and identify those responsible for the incident.

The minister for roads and urban development, Abbas Akhoundi, postponed his visit to Turkmenistan to visit the site of the accident.

A parliament representative for the region, Gholam Reza Kateb, hinted that the head of the Semnan train station may have mistakenly allowed the train to proceed prematurely.

Years of punitive international sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme have badly affected Iran's infrastructure, including roads and rail networks.


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