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Mangled metal in the woods after Russian train wreck

Uglovka — Shattered glass, contorted metal and personal effects of travellers on the ill-fated Nevsky Express are strewn about the site, in stark contrast to the peaceful hush of the surrounding forest.

Scores of police, rescue workers and railroad employees have converged at the scene of the derailed passenger train, as a light rain falls on the disaster that officials said Saturday was most likely caused by a bombing.

An elderly woman who lives in a small, run-down wooden house just meters (yards) away from the incident appeared highly agitated as she was escorted away by a young male relative.

"It was very loud, and we were very frightened," said the woman, whose house lies near the heavily-traveled train tracks that connect the Russian capital Moscow and the northern city of Saint Petersburg.

Police prevented journalists from approaching the immediate area of the disaster, but several derailed and damaged carriages were visible as dawn broke and the fog cleared on the cold November morning.

The rear three carriages of the 14-carriage train were the worst-affected, lying on their side or at crooked angles relative to the tracks.

The metal frame of one carriage was twisted from the force of the disaster, its windows broken and wheels ripped off.

Rescue workers were pulling passengers’ suitcases and bags from one carriage of the Nevsky Express, an upscale train favoured by well-off Russians shuttling between the country’s two biggest cities.

Two soldiers carried away what appeared to be a dead body underneath a white sheet, after officials said most of the corpses and injured passengers had been removed in the night.

Earlier, about seven ambulances were seen speeding away from the scene as an AFP journalist approached the site of the disaster.

Television pictures shot overnight while rescue efforts were at their peak showed bright searchlights being used to illuminate the wreckage as rescuers combed the train for victims.

Forests and swamps surround the area where the derailment took place, near the tiny village of Uglovka in the Novgorod region of Russia.

Besides the old woman’s house there is little else nearby, except for the train tracks and a small electrical substation.