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At least one dead after train crashes in cyclone

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 November 2014

Incredible escape for dozens more as carriages overturn and fall into sea amid hurricane-force winds.

The train was almost full with 45 passengers on board, many of them children. Picture: sakhalin.info

At least one person was killed and more than a dozen injured after a packed commuter train derailed into the sea in far eastern Siberia during a cyclone.

Two locomotives and one passenger carriage came off the tracks, which had been partly washed away by waves whipped up by high winds buffeting Sakhalin island.

Passengers described the train veering suddenly to the side with such force that seats were torn away before being 'flattened' and then ending up in the icy water. It then caught fire in places as leaking diesel fuel ignited.

Images from the scene show how passengers had a miraculous escape, with the carriages upside-down in the sea, having careered down an embankment.

The tragedy unfolded on the Chekhov to Tamari train at about 6.35pm on Monday night as it made its way along a stretch of the line close to the Okhotsk sea.

Train crash on Sakhalin


Train crash on Sakhalin

Images from the scene show how passengers had a miraculous escape, with the carriages upside-down in the sea. Pictures: Sakhalin region Rescue Service

The train was almost full with 45 passengers on board, many of them children, but late last night the Ministry of Emergency Measures in the Sakhalin region was unable to confirm how many people had been killed and injured.

Reports said one man – thought to be 36-year-old rail maintenance foreman Denis Epstein, who was in the cab with the driver – was killed and 17 injured, with two people requiring hospital treatment in Kholmsky.  

Mr Epstein has two young children and his wife took to social media to talk about her grief. Writing on his page she posted: 'He is dead. He is mine, mine, mine.'

More than 170 people, including emergency services, responded to the scene of the crash with dozens of walking wounded suffering cuts and fractures. Two officers of the Far Eastern transport police happened to be among the passengers and gave first aid until medical teams arrived.

Passenger Veronika Makarova told how the train carriages violently toppled over with those on board forced to break windows to climb out. She also said she saw one man with a head injury and described how rescuers struggled to get the trapped train driver free.

Sakhalin train crash

Father of two, 36-year-old rail maintenance foreman Denis Epstein, the only victim in this disaster. Picture: Social media

Early investigations indicate the crash was caused by 150 metres of train track having been washed away by storm waves. A cyclone, bringing hurricane-force winds, sleet and rain, has been pounding parts of Siberia for the past two days.

Travel between Pioneers and Chekhov stations have been temporarily suspended with specialist equipment on site to try and remove the carriages and repair the line.

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