48 reindeer killed by train in Sweden

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Forty-eight reindeer have been killed in northern Sweden, struck by a speeding train they tried in vain to outrun, transport officials said on Tuesday.

"It wasn't pretty to see," one reindeer rancher, Mr Ingmar Blind, told state television network SVT.

The animals, which provide a livelihood for many in remote northern Sweden, met their fate on Saturday near the village of Kaitum in the country's Laponia region.

Near-misses by railways are common as herds migrate during winter in search of food.

But in this case it appeared the herd had wandered onto snow-covered tracks and were startled by the train, the regional transport official in charge of maintenance, Mr Fredrik Rosendahl, told Agence France-Presse.

The reindeer instinctively all ran along the tracks before the train, which crushed them.

"If you follow a reindeer in a car, for instance, it will tend to run in front of the car, it won't go to one side," Mr Rosendahl explained. "So just imagine what happens with a train that needs more than 1km to come to a stop."

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