At least 60 stowaways dead in DR Congo freight train accident: Rail company

KINSHASA— A train crash in the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed at least 60 people, the state rail company said.

“[Currently] the toll is 61 dead, men, women and children [and] 52 injured who have been evacuated,” Marc Manyonga Ndambo, director of infrastructure at the SNCC train operator, said on Saturday.

Local media quoted the provincial governor, Fifi Masuka, as saying 60 people had been killed.

It was a freight train which was carrying “several hundred stowaways”, said Manyonga.

“Some of the bodies were still trapped in the wagons that had fallen into the ravines,” he added.

Manyonga said the train was made up of 15 wagons, 12 of which were empty. It was coming from Luen in a neighbouring province destined for the mining town of Tenke, close to Kolwezi, the capital of Lualaba province in southern DRC.

It derailed at 11:50pm on Thursday near the village of Buyofwe, about 200km from Kolwezi, “at a place where there are ravines”, into which seven of the 15 wagons fell, he said.

“My team is working hard to clear the track by Monday,” Manyonga added. He did not say how the crash had happened.

Another provincial official, Jean-Serge Lumu, told reporters “seven bodies were recovered by the families, 53 others are still at the accident scene”.

Train derailments are common in the DRC, as are shipwrecks of overloaded boats on the country’s lakes and rivers.

Due to the lack of passenger trains or passable roads, people use goods trains to travel long distances.

Last October, nine people died after a train derailed in the city of Kenzenze in the territory of Mutshatsha in the same province.

In 2019, at least 24 people were killed and 31 injured in an accident when a freight train carrying stowaways derailed in the Bena Leka settlement in Kasai province.