Scores of Iranians were killed and many others were wounded Wednesday in a train explosion.
Some sources said more than 200 people were killed and at least 550 were injured when runaway rail wagons loaded with sulphur, petrol and fertilizer derailed and exploded in northeast Iran.
However, a top provincial official told state radio that up to 60 people were killed.
"We are not sure about the number of dead. According to our estimates, we expect the death toll to be around 50 to 60," said Mohammad Maghdori, a deputy governor general of Khorassan province and chief of emergencies.
"Preliminary reports indicate that more than 400 people are injured," he added, saying 150 of them were hospitalised and the rest given first aid and discharged. "The matter is under investigation," he said. Later, "informed sources" were quoted by the Iranian media as saying 530 people either killed or injured in the blast.
According to the Iranian media, the blast occurred when firemen were busy putting off a fire started in the wagons earlier in the morning. "Some of the fire fighters who went there have been burned to death," the head of disasters in Khorassan province, Vahid Barakchi, was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency.
The news agency quoted local officials as saying that five nearby villages were destroyed.
The huge explosion took place near the town of Neyshabour, and was heard in the regional center of Mashhad some 75 kilometers away, the official agency added.
A group of local officials of Neishabour, including the city's governor, have been killed in the huge explosion. According to informed sources at the provincial governor general office, Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, the governor of Neishabour along with some other officials of the city, who were present at the scene of the explosion, were killed on the spot.
The city's mayor, head of the energy department and head of the fire department of Neishabour were also killed in the explosion, the report added.
The reports further said that the director general of the
provincial railways and IRNA correspondent in Neishabour were among the missing people. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )