Twenty-one people were killed and 47 others badly injured when a passenger train traveling through eastern Iran struck an excavator and derailed nearly half its cars before dawn Wednesday.
The local officials revealed that the train operated by the state-run Islamic Republic Railway carried some 350 people as it traveled from Tabas, some 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Tehran, to the city of Yazd.
Sources said it hit the excavator as the train traveled over a railroad underpass in the rural scrubland, sending cars and passengers flying.
According to reports, rescue teams with ambulances and helicopters arrived in remote areas where communication was poor.
It was also reported that over a dozen people suffered critical injuries, with some transferred to local hospitals.
The derailment reportedly happened some 50 kilometers (30 miles) outside Tabas.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is sad over the incident and offered condolences to the victim’s family and announced an investigation would be undertaken into its causes.