Dozens killed in Congo train crash

A train derailed and plunged into a ravine in Congo Republic, killing about 60 people and injuring hundreds on a deadly rail link in the oil-producing Central African state, sources said on Tuesday.

The accident happened late on Monday night after the train left the coastal town of Pointe-Noire on the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean (CFCO) line to the capital, Brazzaville, a line which has seen at least two serious accidents in recent years.

“Unfortunately the train took a corner that turned out to be fatal,” said a rail company source, who declined to be identified because he was unauthorised to speak publicly.

Four of the wagons careered into the ravine near the station of Yanga, about 60km from Pointe-Noire, he said.

About 60 bodies were recovered from the accident scene by midday on Tuesday and about 450 people were being treated for injuries, according to an official at the Adolphe Cisse hospital in Pointe-Noire, who asked not to be named.

Government officials were expected to hold a news conference later in the day.

At least 50 people were killed on the same line in 2001, many of them burned to death, when two trains collided at Mvougounti, 75km east of Pointe-Noire.

In 1991, about 100 people died when a passenger train slammed into a freight train, also at Mvougounti.

The lack of roads and the dysfunctional railway system between the main towns make travel difficult and contribute to the high cost of food and imported goods in the capital and throughout neighbouring land-locked nations.

Chinese engineers started work late last year on a $500-million road linking the oil hub of Pointe-Noire with Brazzaville, a project that will involve crossing equatorial forests and steep mountains.

Congo, which has long exported millions of barrels of oil but remains mostly poor and suffers from poor infrastructure, is seeking to diversify its economy as oil reserves wind down. — Reuters

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