Montenegro trainwreck kills 44, injures over 100

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A passenger train carrying at least 250 people, many of whom were children, derailed in Serbia-Montenegro and drove into a ravine Tuesday afternoon.

Close to 200 have been injured and the death toll has risen to 44. Most of the passengers were schoolchildren returning from a ski trip.

"The accident occurred because of a failure of the train's braking system," said Interior Minister Jusuf Kalomperovic.

At about 4 p.m. the four-car train derailed near Bioče, a small village nearly 15 kilometers northeast of Podgorica as it was emerging from a tunnel above the Moraca River.

"The train simply went wild, out of control," said one injured passenger. "I was fine because I was in a back compartment, those in the front got the worst of it."

"It was horrible, I saw many dead and wounded around me," said another passenger from Hungary, Karman Chofu.

"I had fallen asleep when a loud noise woke me," said Stanislava Bukovic, 60, another injured passenger.

Miodrag Djurovic, the head of the main Podgorica hospital, stated that another five passengers had died overnight. Djurovic also said at least 198 people, 90 of them children, have been treated at the hospital. "The children's hospital admitted 90 children, 34 of them are still there, six have undergone surgery," Djurovic said.

Earlier Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic told the media that the death toll stood at 30 and the amount injured at 135, but said those figures could rise as rescuers continue to reach victims. Ivanisevic described the wreck "as the worst rail accident in the history of Montenegro," Ivanisevic also said.

President Filip Vujanovic and Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic also rushed to the site. "A terrible tragedy happened at Bioče and everything is being done to reduce the number of casualties as much as possible," Vujanovic told reporters.

Because of the accident, Montenegro's transport minister, Andrija Lompar, and National Railways chief Ranko Medenica resigned.

The driver of the train has been arrested because of suspicion of negligence.

The train was heading from the northeastern town of Bijelo Polje to the Montenegrin coastal city of Bar.


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