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Turkey train disaster leaves 24 dead, hundreds injured

Train came off rails after heavy rain and landslide on to tracks, officials say
Rescuers carry injured woman after train accident in northwest Turkey (AFP)

Twenty-four people were killed and hundreds injured when a train packed with weekend passengers derailed in northwest Turkey due to ground erosion afer heavy rains, officials said on Monday. 

The train, with over 360 people on board, was travelling from the Edirne region on the Greek and Bulgarian borders to Istanbul's Halkali station on Sunday when six carriages derailed in the Tekirdag region. 

The train came off the rails after heavy rain and a landslide on to the tracks, officials said.

More than 100 ambulances were sent to the site of the accident, TRT Haber said, citing Health Ministry Undersecretary Eyup Gumus. The Turkish army said in a statement that it had also sent helicopters to the scene.

An unidentified survivor told the private DHA news agency she was riding in one of the derailed cars when it went off the tracks, AP reported.

"There were deaths immediately, people whose legs were crushed. It was a horrible accident," she was quoted as saying.

Television pictures showed several train carriages laying on their sides and shocked and injured people being taken away on stretchers.

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"The accident happened because of adverse weather conditions," Tekirdag governor Mehmet Ceylan told the NTV channel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences for those who lost their lives on Sunday.

Turkish authorities under Erdogan have over the last years sought to modernise Turkey's once ramshackle rail network, building several high speed inter-city lines.

The train involved in the accident appeared to be one of the slower passenger trains travelling on a single-track railway.