Train Derailment in Iran Leaves 21 Dead.

A passenger train derailed in eastern Iran, killing 17 people and injuring over 50 others, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Though initial facts of Wednesday’s accident involving a train apparently carrying 350 passengers were unclear, the number of fatalities could grow.

According to Iranian state media, four of the train’s seven carriages derailed in the early morning darkness near the desert city of Tabas. Tabas is located 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Tehran, Iran’s capital.

In the rural area where contact is difficult, rescue crews with ambulances and helicopters have arrived. Officials reported at least 16 individuals were critically injured, with several being sent to nearby hospitals.

The incident occurred 50 kilometers (30 miles) outside of Tabas on the rail route that connects the city to Yazd, the capital of Iran. The Young Journalists Club, which is affiliated with state television, uploaded photos from the incident, which appeared to show train carriages on their sides as rescuers attempted to care for the injured.

The train collided with an excavator near the railway, according to initial accounts, however it was unclear why an excavator would be near the train track at night. It could have been part of a repair effort, according to one official.

The greatest train accident in Iran occurred in 2004, when a runaway train carrying petrol, fertilizer, sulphur, and cotton collided near the historic city of Neyshabur, killing 320 people, wounding 460, and destroying five villages. In 2016, another train accident killed hundreds of people.

Iran’s railway network spans 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) across a country roughly two and a half times the size of Texas. Its rail system transports people and commodities throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

Iran also has one of the world’s worst road safety records, with 17,000 people killed each year on its highways. The high death toll is attributed to widespread disobedience of traffic laws, hazardous automobiles, and insufficient emergency assistance.

Iran has been mourning the deaths of at least 41 people murdered in a building collapse in the country’s southwest, which is already under US sanctions as a result of the failed nuclear deal.

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