Death toll rises to 24 in Turkey train derailment: deputy PM
Twenty-four people were killed when a train derailed in northwest Turkey this weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag said on Monday, a sharp jump from the previous toll of 10.
The state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Akdag as saying search operations this morning had now been completed at the wreck of the train, which derailed early Sunday evening in the Tekirdag region while heading towards Istanbul.
Turkish media quoted Health Minister Ahmet Demircan as saying 338 people required hospital treatment after the accident with 124 still hospitalized.
Reports said that the train, carrying 362 passengers, had derailed as recent heavy rain caused the ground beneath the track to erode away.
Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said that the latest checks on the rails had been made in April, Anadolu reported.
The train was packed with over 360 weekend travelers when six of its carriages derailed.
Television pictures showed several train carriages laying on their sides, and shocked injured being taken away on stretchers as rescue workers picked through the wreckage.
Reports said the surrounding area was muddy due to recent rains and the ground beneath the rails may have subsided away, causing the train to derail.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was set to be sworn in for a second term with sweeping new powers on Monday, was informed over the accident and expressed his condolences over those who lost their lives, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Turkish authorities under Erdogan have over the last years sought to modernize Turkey's once ramshackle rail network, building several high speed inter-city lines.
Turkish passengers have in general preferred taking planes or the bus for inter-city travel but this is changing with the new high-speed lines.
The train involved in the accident appeared to be one of the slower passenger trains travelling on a single track railway.
Turkey's rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents over the last years.
In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul due to faulty rails.
And in Turkey's worst recent rail disaster, 41 people were killed and 80 injured in July 2004 when a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya.
(Staff with AFP)
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