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Turkey Lowers Death Toll From Train Crash to 36 People - 2004-07-22

There are conflicting reports about the number of deaths in a train derailment in nortwestern Turkey.

The Turkish transportation ministry says 36 people died and 43 were injured in Thursday's crash. Earlier, the government crisis center said 139 had died.

The train was running between Istanbul and Ankara when it derailed Thursday, the Turkish health ministry says.

Turkish soldiers continued to pick through the wreckage of the high-speed train that derailed near the township of Pamukova in the province of Sakarya in northwestern Turkey. The township's mayor, Feridun Turan, who arrived at the scene shortly after the disaster said human body parts were strewn all over the crash area.

Around 240 passengers were in the train at the time of the accident. The wounded were rushed to hospitals in the nearby provinces of Adapazari, Bilecik and Sakarya.

The chairman of Turkey's state railways, Suleyman Karaman, said the cause of the accident was unclear. Four cars were derailed, according to officials at the scene. The governor of Bilecik, Ayhan Cevik, said four or five cars of the train crashed into each other.

The train was believed to have been traveling at around 80 kilometers per hour. The high-speed service between the country's commercial capital Istanbul and Ankara was launched with much fanfare in June by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan said he was canceling a planned visit to Bosnia so he could travel to the scene of the accident.