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Ekeomah Atuonwu

A train derailed near the central Iranian city of Tabas on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens more, according to state media.

Tabas is about 900 kilometers (560 miles) from Tehran in the South Khorasan province.

The train was carrying 348 passengers, according to Mir Hassan Moussavi, the deputy head of Iran’s state-owned railways.

He said it “derailed after hitting an excavator” near the track.

According to state television footage, some of the injured were airlifted to hospitals by helicopter.

As onlookers gathered nearby, rescue teams inspected the overturned carriages, according to photos posted by the ISNA news agency.

A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on June 8, 2022 shows rescuers at the scene of a train derailment near the central Iranian city of Tabas on the line between the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Yazd /AFP/

Iranian media indicate that the Tabas prosecutor visited the accident scene as a judicial investigation into the cause of the accident was launched.

After a tower block collapsed in southwestern Iran last month, killing at least 43 people, the train derailed.

The collapse of the 10-storey Metropol building in Abadan, which was under construction at the time, sparked angry protests in support of the victims’ families.

The provincial judiciary said it had arrested 13 people suspected of being “responsible” for the tragedy, including Abadan’s mayor and two former mayors.

The disaster was one of Iran’s deadliest in recent memory, sparking nationwide protests against officials accused of corruption and incompetence.

In northern Iran in 2016, two trains collided and caught fire, killing 44 people and injuring dozens more.

After four of his employees were arrested following a collision on the main line between Tehran and Mashhad, the then-head of Iranian railways resigned.

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Ekeomah Atuonwu

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This photo provided by Iranian Red Crescent Society, shows the scene where a passenger train partially derailed near the desert city of Tabas in eastern Iran, Wednesday, Iran, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (Iranian Red Crescent Society via AP)