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9 killed, dozens hurt as train hits locomotive, overpass in Turkey

Deadly train crash takes down overpass

ANKARA, Turkey -- A high-speed train hit a railway engine and crashed into a pedestrian overpass Thursday at a station in the Turkish capital of Ankara, killing nine people and injuring dozens, officials said. The 6:30 a.m. train from Ankara to the central Turkish city of Konya collided head-on with the engine, which was checking the tracks at the capital's small Marsandiz station, Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan told reporters after inspecting the site. The high-speed train, which the Anadolu Agency said was carrying 206 passengers, usually passes through that station without stopping. 

At least two cars derailed, hitting the station's overpass, which then collapsed onto the train. Three engine drivers and six passengers were killed in the crash, Turhan said. One passenger died after being hospitalized while the others were killed at the scene.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 84 other people had sought medical help after the crash.

Television footage showed emergency services working to rescue passengers from wrangled cars and debris. Hurriyet newspaper said sniffer dogs assisted efforts to find survivors. Turhan said later no one else was believed to be trapped.

It wasn't immediately clear if a signaling problem caused the crash. Authorities detained three state railway employees over suspected negligence and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed a thorough investigation. 

Rescue workers search at the wreckage after a high speed train crash in Ankara
Rescue workers search through wreckage after high-speed train crashed into locomotive and pedestrian overpass in station in Ankara, Turkey on December 13, 2018 TUMAY BERKIN / REUTERS

Passenger Ayse Ozyurt told the IHA news agency that the accident occurred 12 minutes after the train left the main station and that it had not yet gained its maximum speed. 

"The train was not fast at that time yet," she said. "Suddenly, there was a frightening breakage ... and the train was off the rail."

Konya, about 160 miles south of Ankara, is home to the tomb of the Sufi mystic and poet Jalaladdin Rumi, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists. The crash occurred during an annual week of remembrance for Rumi, when many travel to Konya to watch Whirling Dervishes, members of a Sufi sect, perform.

Turkey has had a raft of train crashes this year.

In July, 24 people were killed and more than 70 injured when most of a passenger train derailed in northwestern Turkey after torrential rains caused a section of the tracks to collapse. Last month, 15 people were injured when a passenger train collided with a freight train in Turkey's central province of Sivas.