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Iranian Authorities Investigating Train Explosion

Tehran, 19 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Authorities have started an investigation into why 51 railway cars broke loose from a train station in northeastern Iran yesterday, before derailing and exploding, leaving some 300 people dead.

Authorities were allowed entry to the disaster site in the town of Neyshabur early today after Revolutionary Guards cordoned off the area overnight in fear of more explosions from the derailed railway cars, which were loaded with sulphur, gasoline, and fertilizer.

Authorities say the railway cars had rolled about 20 kilometers from the Abu Muslim train station before derailing and catching fire. Some 200 of the dead are thought to be rescue workers who were trying to put out the fires when a massive explosion occurred.

Today is an official day of mourning in Iran for the victims of the disaster.