The train was coming from the pilgrimage city of Mashhad when several carriages derailed. It is feared that the number of victims could rise.

At least 17 people have died in a train crash in Iran. Several dozen other passengers were injured in the accident near the city of Tabas, the Iranian news agency Isna said on Wednesday, citing the Red Crescent.

Accordingly, the train derailed on the route between the pilgrimage city of Mashhad and the desert city of Yasd. A higher number of victims is feared, it said. The exact cause was initially unclear.

Images from the Isna news agency showed derailed wagons surrounded by dust. Rescue workers rushed to the scene of the accident about 50 kilometers outside of Tabas. Helicopters were also deployed to rescue the seriously injured. Several hundred passengers are said to have been on the train. According to the national aid and rescue organization, five of the seven wagons jumped off the track.

The accident is reminiscent of a serious train disaster in 2016, when dozens of people were killed and injured in northeastern Iran. At that time, the rescue work was also made more difficult by the fact that the scene of the accident was in a remote region. The worst rail accident in Iran occurred in 2004 when a freight train carrying chemicals exploded near Nishabur, killing more than 300 people.