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CBC News - Canada: Passenger train plunges into ravine in Serbia-Montenegro; at least 44 killed

Published date: 25.01.2006 14:20 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Passenger train plunges into ravine in Serbia-Montenegro; at least 44 killed
12:13:24 EST Jan 24, 2006

BIOCE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Brake failure may have caused a passenger train to plunge into a ravine outside Montenegro's capital, killing at least 44 people and injuring 198, officials said Tuesday.

Rescuers were scouring the wreckage for survivors and not all aboard had been accounted for by Tuesday afternoon.

At least 250 passengers, many of them children returning from a ski trip, were believed to be aboard.

The train derailed Monday near Bioce, a village about 15 kilometres northeast of Podgorica, as it emerged from a tunnel above the Moraca River. It plummeted into a 100-metre ravine.

Interior Minister Jusuf Kalamperovic said initial reports indicated brake failure may have been the cause. The injured train driver was under police custody in hospital on suspicion of negligence.

Health Minister Miodrag Pavicevic said at least 44 people died and 198 were injured. A Podgorica hospital official said the injured included 90 children.

Serbia-Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic said the accident was a "great tragedy" for Montenegro. A three-day mourning period was declared for the victims.

A 17-year-old passenger gave birth to a boy in hospital Tuesday after her injuries induced premature labour.

Overnight, darkness in the densely forested area hampered rescue efforts. Victims had cried for help from the deep ravine and emergency workers removed bodies tangled in the four smashed train cars and strewn around nearby patches of woodland.

"The train simply went wild, out of control," a passenger said as blood poured down his forehead. "I was fine because I was in a back compartment; those in the front got the worst of it."

Grieving relatives lined up outside an improvised tent at the Podgorica hospital morgue to identify the dead and take the bodies home.

"I lost my whole life in this tragedy," sobbed Radomir Cobarkapa, 50. His wife and son were killed and two of his other children were injured in the crash.

Tarzan Milosevic, mayor of the northeastern town of Bijelo Polje, came to claim the bodies of 20 of his townspeople who were killed. The train was en route from Bijelo Polje to the Montenegrin coastal city of Bar when it derailed.

"There are no words to describe this," he said through tears.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic visited the Podgorica hospital where many of the injured were taken and said emergency crews had "reacted as well as could be expected in such a harsh and inaccessible terrain."

Transport Minister Andrija Lompar resigned because of the accident, Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic said. The head of Montenegro railways also resigned.