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Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 4:10am

Dozens Killed As Bus, Train Collide In Ukraine

A crowded bus drove onto a railroad crossing and collided with a train Tuesday in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 38 people and wounding about a dozen, police officials said.

The accident occurred at 9:25 a.m. local time near the city of Marhanets in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Rescuers, medics and investigators were working at the scene of the crash. All the casualties were on the bus.

Initial investigations suggest the driver of the commuter bus ignored the warnings that a train was coming when he drove onto the crossing.

Railway officials told Ukraine's Unian news agency that the warning lights and alarms were on when the driver of the inter-city passenger bus entered the crossing and visibility was almost half a mile in each direction. Unian reports that several injured passengers are in serious condition, and police expect the death toll to rise.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov ordered his government to pay each family of the dead victims $12,600.

He also instructed transport officials to install automated crossing gates at all the nation's railway crossings to prevent cars, buses and trucks from ignoring the siren.

Road and railway accidents are common in Ukraine, where the roads are in poor condition, vehicles are poorly maintained, and drivers and passengers routinely disregard safety and traffic rules.

Peter van Dyk and Jessica Golloher reported from Moscow for this story, which also contains material from The Associated Press [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]