63 dead after freight train carrying fuel derails in Congo
November 13, 2017 11:10 am
At least 63 people were reported killed yesterday and 80 seriously injured after a cargo train derailed in Katanga in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other people were also trapped inside the train after 12 of its carriages flipped off the track in the accident near Likasi, a mining town between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the copper and cobalt-rich southeast.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said police feared that the number of the dead could increase. He said that an investigation has been opened into the cause of the accident, but it was suspected that the accident was due to speeding.
According to BBC, Jean Marie Dikanga Kazadi, the interior minister for the mineral-rich Katanga region, said that preliminary investigations suggested the train’s driver had been going too fast – at about 60km/h (37mph) when the speed limit was 40km/h. The driver tried to break too fast for a bend leading to the derailment near the city of Kamina.
“Evidently the train was going too fast, the driver came to a curve and had to break suddenly leading to the accident,” said Katanga’s interior minister.
The cargo train was overloaded with passengers, some of whom were on top of the carriages. It is not uncommon in DR Congo for people to have to cancel journeys due to train delays and a 3-day journey can easily turn into a week due to unreliable train services. Many people resort to use of cargo trains as an alternative means of transport due to the country’s unreliable transport system.
In 2007, more than 100 people were killed in an accident involving people travelling onboard a cargo train in the province of Kasai Occidential.
The country has around 4,000 km of railways but much of this is narrow-gauge track and in poor condition; more than a third of the rail track is more than 60 years old and in urgent need of an upgrade.
The country’s infrastructure is in very bad shape due to neglect and needs serious upgrade, with recent reports showing that of 153,497km of roads, only 2,794km are paved. DR Congo also utilizes waterways to transport goods but journeys can take months to complete and overcrowded boats frequently capsize. The most recent DR Congo boat accident claimed about100 lives when a boat overloaded with 250 Congolese refuges leaving Uganda capsized on lake Albert.
The World Bank is currently funding a refurbishment of the train network, which has received few upgrades since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
- Source: Stream Africa