24 killed in Turkey as passenger train derails amid heavy rain

At least 24 passengers were killed and more than 100 others injured in Turkey when a passenger train derailed after the ground beneath the rail track running over a culvert gave way in heavy rain in north-western Tekirdag province on Sunday, local reports said.

Five compartments (pictured – Twitter/Raveen Aujmaya‏) of the train carrying 362 passengers and a six-member crew to Istanbul from Edirne toppled near Sarilar village, 30 kilometres west of Istanbul.

An investigation has been launched and the two engine drivers were detained.

Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told media that seven other trains had passed the route earlier on Sunday but the heavy rain later caused “extraordinary swelling.” He said the latest security checks at the railway were made in April.

A railway expert said recent privatisation drive has cut the number of workers tasked with checking the tracks to avoid such accidents.

The stretch near the accident site turned muddy following the downpour making it difficult for rescue workers to immediately reach there.

Emergency services, military and ambulance helicopters arrived at the scene and rescue operations were completed late on Sunday.

The government on Sunday banned broadcasting images from the accident site. The ban was lifted early on Monday.

The last major train accident in Turkey happened in January 2004 when a high-speed train derailed in Pamukova district in north-western Sakarya province killing 41 people.

Earlier, in January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in central Kütahya province due to faulty tracks.