60 reported dead in Congo train crash

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

60 people are reported to have died, with several hundred more injured, after a train in Congo derailed.

The incident happened Monday night, according to the railroad company, Chemin de Fer Congo-Ocean. The incident is believed to have occurred as the train rounded a curve in a remote part of the Congo, around 37 miles (60 km) from Pointe-Noire. Four railcars are reported to have fallen into a ravine.

The city of Pointe-Noire (station pictured) is on the Congolese coast
Image: Unsonique (Wikimedia Commons).

A spokesperson for the government, Bienvenue Okiemy, said that "excess speed" had been the cause of the derailment.

Officials said 60 bodies have been recovered, and a further 450 people are being treated for injuries at a hospital in Pointe-Noire. Okiemy commented that the death toll could still rise, "because searches and operations to lift wagons which fell into a ravine are still ongoing."

A railroad official said that "[t]he material damage was also very severe", adding that "[a]ll steps have been taken to organise relief."

The incident is the third major train crash on the line in two decades. In 1991, a passenger train collided with a freighter, killing around 100 people, and in 2001, another collision killed around 50 people.