Train Collision Claims 44 Lives, Injures 103 in Semnan

The number of casualties soon increased as the fire spread out of control and emergency aid got delayed.The number of casualties soon increased as the fire spread out of control and emergency aid got delayed.

At least 44 people have lost their lives and nearly 103 injured after two passenger trains collided at a station in Iran’s north-central province of Semnan, news outlets reported on Friday.

According to local officials, the collision happened at the Haf-Khan station near the city of Shahroud around 7:40 a.m. local time on Friday, leaving 44 dead and 103 injured, IRNA reported.

"Ambulances and seven rescue teams were dispatched to the accident site," said Mostafa Mortazavi, spokesman of the Relief and Rescue Organization of Iranian Red Crescent Society.

One of the ill-fated trains was en route from Semnan to Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province and the other from Tabriz in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan to Semnan, when the accident occurred. Four train coaches got derailed and two caught fire.



Aid workers at the location also said a number of the injured are in critical condition and reported that a large number of casualties could not be identified immediately due to the severity of burns.

The number of casualties was initially reported as five dead and 15 injured, but the figure soon rose as the fire spread out of control and emergency aid got delayed.

According to Mortazavi, snowfall and icy roads hampered access to the site; therefore, a rescue helicopter was dispatched to the area.

Nearly 70 of the injured were taken to the nearest medical facilities in Damghan and Semnan cities. Dozens of others also received outpatient services on the scene of the accident.

There is no official figure on the number of casualties which might see a further increase at the end of the relief operation. The cause of the accident remains unknown and investigation continues.

"In all probability, the Semnan-Mashhad train crashed into the other one which had stopped at Semnan apparently due to a locomotive problem," speculated Governor General Mohammadreza Khabbaz of Semnan Province.

"The Iran Railways Company is the authority to comment on the exact cause," he added.

Emergency teams from the provincial Crisis Management Organization tried to clear the tracks as the accident caused delays for other trains on the Tehran-Mashhad railway line which see an average of 85 trains per day.

Hours after the accident, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi cancelled his trip to Turkmenistan and flew to the accident site to investigate the situation. 

Abbass Akhoundi, Minister of Roads and Urban Development

In a message on his website, President Hassan Rouhani offered his condolences to the affected families and called on competent authorities, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development in particular, to start an immediate probe into the cause of the mishap, identify those responsible, and spare no efforts in offering services to the injured.

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