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Rescuers save 8-year-old girl trapped in derailed Yugoslav train

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Rescuers using railroad cranes and blowtorches saved an 8-year-old girl today, more than eight hours after a landslide swept two cars of a passenger train into a rain-swollen river.

Judge Ljubinko Sretenovic, who is investigating the accident, said 20 people were killed and nearly 40 injured when a Nis-to-Belgrade train was hit by a landslide at 3:20 p.m. Sunday in Stalac, 113 miles south of Belgrade.

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The girl was rescued from the twisted metal more than eight hours after the disaster, suffering only minor injuries, railroad officials said.

Sretenovic, of the Krusevac district court, said rescuers had difficulty pulling out the dead and injured about 65 feet from the Morava River canyon back onto the embankment because the only access to the disaster site was the railroad.

There were no foreigners among the victims, officials said.

The accident blocked rail traffic and caused delays on international trains from Athens and Istanbul.

Heavy rains triggered the landslide, which burst through a supporting stone wall and derailed two cars of the train, throwing them into the Morava River at a major train intersection at Stalac.

Stalac was the site of a disaster in September 1979 when 60 people were killed in a collision between a passenger and a freight train.

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The injured were rushed to hospitals in the nearby towns of Krusevac and Paracin.

The last major railway disaster in the country was in December 1980 when 23 people died at Bosanska Krupa in mid-western Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia's worst railway disaster was in 1974 when a passenger train jumped the tracks, killing 153 people at the station of Zagreb in western Yugoslavia.

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