At least three passengers were killed and more than 30 injured in a train derailment in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region early Wednesday, rescuers said.

There is some confusion over the number of fatalities. The rescue team previously said four people had died but Urumqi Railway Bureau have issued a statement saying three people have been confirmed dead and 34 were injured, of which two are in a serious condition.

According to the Urumqi Railway Bureau, 11 carriages of Train No. 5806 were derailed by hurricane-strength gusts of wind at around 2:00 a.m, soon after it left Turpan station. The train runs between Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region, and Aksu, a city in southern Xinjiang.

A car of Train No. 5807 was derailed near the Turpan station in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Feb. 28, 2007. According to sources with the Urumqi Railway Bureau, 11 cars of Train No. 5807 were derailed by a strong wind at about 2:00 a.m. early Wednesday, soon after leaving the Turpan station. At least three passengers were killed and more than 30 injured in the derailed train.

The accident occurred between Zhenzhuquan station and Hongshanqu station, about 20 to 30 km from Turpan.

"The winds measured force 13, more powerful than a hurricane," said the railway bureau.

"Sand and dust cracked the window panes soon after the train left Turpan, and blew some of the cars off the tracks when we were trying to plug up the windows," said a passenger named Su Chuanyi, a local TV journalist.

"The first rescue team of more than 100 people, including doctors and police officers, arrived at 4:30 a.m," Su said.

"The wind was too strong to stand against," said one rescuer.

The accident occurred near a wind farm 120 km away from Urumqi. The area is well known for strong winds all the year round. In April 2001, 11 train carriages were derailed in the same area.

The railway is back in operation and all 1,100 passengers have reached their destination, either by bus or other trains, said the local railway bureau.

The railway was recovered at 11:30 a.m. after being blocked for nine hours, said local police.

All the trapped passengers have been rescued from the overturned train, said the bureau. The last trapped passenger named Han Jianwai, one of the train staff, was rescued at around 10:00 a.m., rescuers said.

Cold air, which caused the strong wind and snow, arrived in Xinjiang two days ago, said the regional meteorological station.

A task force from the Ministry of Railways is heading for the scene.

Eleven train carriages near the Zhenzhuquan area were derailed by strong winds in April 2001.

The Ministry of Railways and Urumqi Railway Bureau invested over one billion yuan (about 129 million U.S. dollars) in projects which protected the railway from strong winds in 2003.