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Iran train crash kills at least 8

Four cars derail on the Tehran-Mashhad route. Officials say the death toll is likely to rise.

January 24, 2010|By Borzou Daragahi

Reporting from Beirut — A train accident in northeastern Iran killed at least eight people Saturday and injured dozens of others, underscoring problems in Iran's transportation sector.

Four wagons of a five-car passenger train traveling between Tehran and the eastern city of Mashhad derailed about 400 miles from the capital, Iranian news outlets reported.

Gholam-Reza Masoumi, head of the State Emergency Center, told the semiofficial Iranian Labor News Agency that the death toll was likely to rise "in view of the critical conditions of some casualties and the type of incident."

Officials cited by Iranian news agencies variously attributed the accident to a switch failure, the breaking of a pin, an obstacle on the tracks or the train traveling too fast.

Experts say Iran's transportation sector, especially civil aviation, has deteriorated over the last 30 years because of international sanctions, mismanagement and lack of investment.

Three people died last summer in a train accident along the same route. In 2004, a train loaded with chemicals and fertilizer exploded after an accident along the route, killing at least 300 residents, including several local officials.

The West has offered to lift sanctions and contribute to the rebuilding of Iran's transportation sector if Tehran curbs sensitive aspects of its nuclear program, which the U.S. and Europe believe is aimed at developing a bomb.

Iran insists its nuclear program is meant solely for peaceful civilian purposes and refuses to abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on it to halt uranium enrichment.

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