Train and bus collide in Ukraine, 43 killed

Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:34pm GMT

By Richard Balmforth

KIEV (Reuters) - At least 43 people were killed on Tuesday when a goods locomotive hit a commuter bus at a railway crossing in Ukraine -- the worst road traffic accident since the former Soviet republic gained independence.

The bus, carrying more than 50 people including the driver, was struck as it went over a level crossing near the small town of Marhanets in eastern Ukraine at around 9 a.m., the emergencies ministry said.

Ukrainian Transport Minister Kostyantyn Yefimenko was quoted by a news agency as saying the driver, who was killed, had driven forward onto the track even though a siren was signalling an oncoming train.

The bus was thrust 30 metres (100 feet) along the track by the impact and its hulk remained crumpled and buckled under the front of the locomotive for hours after the accident.

The emergencies ministry said 43 people, three of them boys aged between 7 and 15, had died. Nine people were in hospital with critical injuries and officials said the toll could rise further.

Television footage showed the bodies of victims laid out under blankets alongside the track. President Viktor Yanukovich, who was in the region at the time, visited the disaster scene and later saw some of the survivors in a hospital.

In televised remarks, he said that Ukraine needed to strengthen its laws related to the responsibility of drivers of public transport. He declared Wednesday a day of mourning.

Yefimenko was quoted by Ukrainski Novini news agency as saying the driver had at first stopped the bus and got out.   Continued...

<p>The wreckage of a bus is seen after a collision with a goods train in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region October 12, 2010. REUTERS/Pool</p>
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