Twenty-two rescue teams, 10 ambulances and three helicopters were deployed after five carriages of a train derailed at 5:30 am local time near the city of Tabas. According to state media, the wounded were taken to nearby towns for treatment.
The death toll is expected to rise due to the severity of injuries, Iranian state media IRNA reported, citing South Khorasan Province spokesman Seyyed Abolhasan Mirjalili.
The train was carrying 348 passengers when it collided with an excavator on the tracks, IRNA reported. According to Reuters, he was heading to the city of Yazd.
Aerial footage shared on Iranian Red Crescent social media shows vehicles parked on their side in the desert.
The incident comes almost two weeks after a 10-story commercial building collapsed in the city of Abadan, killing 41 people and sparking anti-government demonstrations in Iranian provinces.