A collision between a bus and a goods locomotive has killed 40 people and injured several others in eastern Ukraine.
AFP - Forty people were killed Tuesday when a bus packed with rush-hour commuters crashed into a train after jumping a red light at a level crossing in central Ukraine, officials said.
"According to preliminary information, 40 people were killed and 10 wounded," Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said at a cabinet meeting, requesting a minute of silence for the victims.
The remains of the yellow bus, crushed against the train, were still on the tracks at the scene of the disaster near the village of Marganets in the Dnipropetrovsk region when anguished relatives arrived, struggling to contain their grief.
"Mother, where have you gone!" a young woman around 30 years old cried between sobs over a body lying on the ground.
The bodies were laid side by side on the bank of the railway as people searched for their loved ones among the dead.
Officials looked through the identification documents on the bodies laid out by the tracks, calling out names, drawing cries of grief weeping.
President Viktor Yanukovych, who was in region's main centre of Dnipropetrovsk for a meeting on economic reform, declared a day of national mourning Wednesday in honour of the victims.
He conveyed his condolences to the relatives of the victims and said a committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Kluyev had been set up to investigate the cause of the accident and help the families.
A statement on the presidential website said Kluyev had left for Marganets, over 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the main regional city of Dnipropetrovsk and close to the city of Zaporizhia.
"The head of state has ordered law enforcement agencies to carry out a detailed investigation to establish those responsible for the accident," the statement said.
The ministry of interior said in a statement that the train had dragged the bus along the line for 30 metres after impact. It said that some of the wounded were in a critical condition and the toll could rise.
Local police said that the blame lay with the driver of the bus for breaking a red light although there were no firm conclusions from investigators.
"The driver of the bus broke traffic laws by driving through a red light before colliding with the train," a spokeswoman for regional traffic police, Lyudmila Bashmakova, told AFP. She said there were three children among the dead.
The spokeswoman said the accident happened at 8:30 am (0530 GMT). Bashmakova said the vehicle was an inter-city passenger bus carrying locals.
The interior ministry said that according to witnesses, "the motor of the bus stopped at the level crossing as the driver was changing gears."
Officials said that the level crossing, which operated with a sound and light system, was automatic and in good working order
"Survivors remember yelling (to the driver) that the sound signal means he cannot proceed," Ukrainian Transportation Minister Kostyantyn Efimenko said on television.
Ukraine, in common with other ex-Soviet states, has a terrible road safety record due to ageing vehicles and drivers who repeatedly flout road rules, with thousands killed on the road every year.
Date created : 2010-10-12