Train accident kills 39 in Montenegro


Rescuers search for injured passengers in the carriages of a derailed train in Bioce, Serbia-Montenegro, on Monday.

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 10:03 p.m.
BIOCE, Serbia-Montenegro - A packed passenger train derailed Monday and plunged into a steep river canyon outside the Montenegrin capital, killing at least 39 people, the government said.
More than 135 people were injured in the late-afternoon crash, among the deadliest European train accidents of the past quarter-century.
The train, which carried dozens of children returning home from a ski vacation, derailed near Bioce, a village about nine miles northeast of Podgorica as it emerged from a tunnel above the Moraca River, police said.
Interior Minister Jusuf Kalomperovic said initial reports indicated the train's brakes may have failed.
Victims cried for help from the ravine, where four train cars lay smashed. Darkness in the densely forested area was hampering rescue efforts.
"It was horrible, I saw many dead and wounded around me," said one passenger from Hungary, Karman Chofu.
Police, medical workers and volunteers pulled bodies from the 328-foot ravine.
At least 200 passengers were believed to be on the train.
Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic described the crash "as the worst rail accident in the history of Montenegro."
He said 39 people had died and 135 were injured, warning that the figures could rise further as emergency crews continue to reach victims.
Ivanisevic said Andrija Lompar, the republic's transport minister, resigned, and a three-day mourning period was announced for the victims.
Investigative judge Zoran Radovic told the AP the entire train fell into the ravine and that it was carrying many schoolchildren home from a skiing holiday in the north.
The train was en route from the northeastern town of Bijelo Polje to the Montenegrin coastal city of Bar when it derailed near Podgorica.
"I had fallen asleep when a loud noise woke me," said Stanislava Bukovic, 60, one of the injured passengers, as she was carried away on a stretcher.
"Then I felt something hit my head and lost consciousness," she added.
"The next thing I knew I was on this stretcher."
Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic visited the scene and called it a "catastrophe."
Other deadly train accidents in Europe in recent decades included the June 1998 derailment of a high-speed train traveling from Munich to Hamburg, which killed 96 people; and a crash in a dead-end tunnel at Moorgate Underground station in central London that killed 43 in February 1975.

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