Dozens of stowaways feared dead in Congo train derailment: official

At least 50 stowaways were killed in southeastern Congo Thursday when a freight train derailed and pinned some beneath, a government minister there said — the latest rail mishap in a nation with a history of fatal train accidents.

Officials said the victims were riding on top of the train when the cars derailed in Tanganyika Province, throwing the victims to their deaths and crushing others under the rail cars.

“It seems that many stowaways are trapped under the derailed carriages,” said Victor Umba, union chief of the national rail company SNCC.

“Those who died in the derailment were stowaways,” Umba added. “It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll.”

Congo’s minister for humanitarian action, Steven Mbikayi, set the death toll at 50 in an early morning Tweet, writing that the “Provisional toll: 50 dead and several injured.”

But provincial governor Zoe Kabila responded on social media: “Correction…. provincial toll 10 dead, 30 injured and three railcars overturned.”

The fatal crash is just the latest in a country with a long-running record of train mishaps.

At least 24 people were killed in March when another freight train carrying illegal passengers derailed in the country’s central region. Ten stowaways died and 24 were injured when the breaks failed on another train.

With Post wires

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