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Hundreds Dead and Injured in Iran Freight Train Explosion - 2004-02-19


Scores of people were killed today (Wednesday) when a runaway freight train, carrying fuel and chemicals, exploded in northeastern Iran.

State television reported 182 people, mostly fire and rescue workers, were killed in the province of Khorasan. At least 350 others were injured. Local officials say the final death toll could be around 300.

The state-run IRNA news agency reports the cargo train rolled out of the station on its own after what it said were vibrations. It traveled for some distance before derailing and bursting into flames near the city of Neyshapur.

Rescue workers and firefighters responding to the initial blasts were killed when more explosions occurred. The local governor and fire chief were among the dead.

Five villages suffered serious damage and casualties, and the United Nations has said it is "prepared to assist those affected by the tragedy."

Iranian seismologists recorded a 3.6 magnitude tremor at the exact time of the explosion.

State television showed pictures of charred railway cars, with thick black smoke billowing into the sky, and nearby buildings and vehicles that had been destroyed.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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