Turkey train disaster leaves 24 dead, hundreds hurt

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ISTANBUL, July 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Twenty-four people were killed and
hundreds injured when a train packed with weekend passengers derailed in
northwest Turkey due to ground erosion after heavy rains, officials said
Monday.

The train, which was carrying 362 passengers, was travelling from the
Edirne region on the Greek and Bulgarian borders to Istanbul’s Halkali
station on Sunday when six carriages derailed in the Tekirdag region.

Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag said 24 people died, in a sharp rise from
the previous toll of 10.

The state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Akdag as saying search operations
through the derailed train carriages had been completed Monday morning.

Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said 318 people required treatment after the
accident with 124 still hospitalised.

Regional prosecutors have opened an investigation, with the two train
drivers and three other railway workers summoned to give statements, Anadolu
said.

The transport ministry said that the train had derailed as recent heavy
downpours 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.

Turkish media, including the Hurriyet newspaper, published pictures showing
the erosion had been so bad that part of the track had been in the air with
no ground left to support it.

Television pictures showed several train carriages sprawled on their sides,
and shocked injured passengers being taken away on stretchers as rescue
workers picked through the wreckage.

The train derailed outside the village of Sarilar in the Corlu district of
Tekirdag.

– ‘Every available means’ –

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences over those who
lost their lives in the accident that he said has “deeply upset the whole
nation”.

The accident, one of Turkey’s worst train disasters of recent years,
threatens to cast a shadow over a lavish ceremony scheduled in Ankara later
Monday to mark the inauguration of Erdogan for a new presidential mandate and
the transition to a new system of government.

Erdogan said all state institutions were “using every means available to
help”, vowing that there would be a comprehensive investigation into the
“tragic accident”, the presidency said.

Turkey’s audiovisual authority RTUK later said the government had issued a
temporary ban on broadcasting images from the scene. This was lifted on
Monday morning.

Turkish authorities under Erdogan have over the last years sought to
modernise Turkey’s once ramshackle rail network, building several high speed
inter-city lines.

Turkish passengers have in general preferred taking planes or buses for
inter-city travel, but this has been 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 line.

Turkey’s rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents in recent
years.

In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the
Kutahya region south of Istanbul due to faulty tracks.

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.

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