Up to 50 people were killed early Thursday when a train derailed in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the minister for humanitarian action, Steve Mbikayi, said in a tweet.
“Another disaster! Derailing at 3am (0100 GMT) in Tanganyika (province) near Mayibaridi. Provisional toll: 50 dead and several injured,” he wrote.
Encore une catastrophe !
Déraillement à 3h du matin ds le Tanganyika aux environs de la localité Mayibaridi.
Bilan provisoire:50 morts et plusieurs blessés !
Au nom du gvt ,je présente les condoléances aux familles éprouvées. Réunion en cours pr des dispositions à prendre.
— STEVE MBIKAYI (@Cartesien243) September 12, 2019
The governor of Tanganyika, Zoe Kabila, later gave a lower provisional toll of 10 people killed and 30 injured. He said three of the train’s carriages had come off the tracks.
But witnesses at the scene and local media feared up to a hundred people could have been killed.
Victor Umba, the union head of the national rail company SNCC, said the freight train was travelling from the town of Nyunzu to the town of Niemba when two railcars fell on their sides, crushing many people underneath.
“Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll,” Umba told AFP.
Railways in the DRC have a poor record for safety, hampered by poor tracks and decrepit locomotives, many of them dating from the 1960s. In March, at least 24 people were killed and 31 were injured when a freight train carrying illegal passengers crashed in the central region of Kasai.
In November last year, 10 stowaways were killed and 24 injured near the eastern town of Samba when the brakes failed on a freight train.
In November 2017, 35 people were killed when a freight train carrying 13 oil tankers plunged into a ravine in southern Lualaba province.
Mbikayi told The Associated Press that Thursday’s derailment also injured 23 others and that the death toll may rise, as many people are still under the train and must be rescued. He said the government is sending emergency workers to the scene.