At least 36 people are known to have died with several more injured in a fatal collision between two passenger trains at a station in the Iranian city of Shahroud. It’s expected that the total fatalities is likely to rise due to how busy the trains would’ve been and the harsh conditions that the rescue teams are up against. This expectation has been expressed in state media and by the local governor.
The local news agencies FARS and MEHR are covering the news, thus far there have been contradicting reports from the agencies. With FARS claiming 52 people had been injured. Whilst MEHR had claimed that a red crescent representative hadn’t mentioned a figure, only that they would know more once they’d put out fires on the wrecked carriages.
It appears that one train was moving and the other was a stationary interview city express train that was stopped after breaking down at the Haft-Khan station. It’s thought that the Iranian red crescent (their equivalent to the red cross) was struggling to get rescuers to the scene due to its remote location being 250 miles east of the Iranian capital of Tehran.
Rescuers are desperately trying to free those still inside, but some of carriages are on fire which is only hampering the efforts. Four of the carriages have derailed two of which are on fire. Also due to a stiff winter the sub-zero temperatures are also working against rescue teams. Who due to the remoteness of the location had to be brought in by helicopter. It’s thought that four of the fatalities were railway workers on the train.
Years of harsh sanctions from the international community have badly affected Iran’s infrastructure. With the country being unable to do much business outside of the country due to their continuing attempts at implementing the country’s nuclear programme. Purchasing new equipment and trains to upgrade their railway infrastructure is almost impossible. The accident comes in the wake of Ayatollah Khomeini threatening that Iran would be forced to retaliate if current sanctions were to extended. This is expected to happen in the near future, with the measure being voted in by an almost 100% approval in the house of representatives. It’s expected that the senate will vote the same way. This would be devastating to Iran, as it seems the Islamic republic I’d trying to modernise and open itself up to more scrutiny in order to stop further sanctions.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.