Africa

DR Congo train crash search continues

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo say they are still trying rescue people trapped in the mangled wreckage of a derailed train.

Rescue teams and medics have attempted to save survivors trapped in the mangled wreckage of a train that flew off the rails in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least 48.

"A special crane with a team specialised in derailments arrived on site at 11:00 pm to lift up the carriages," health ministry official Felix Kabange Numbi said, after visiting the remote accident site with other officials.

A newly purchased locomotive hurtled off the track in a swampy region on Tuesday as the goods train, bursting with illegal passengers, rounded a bend about 65 kilometres north of Kamina in the southeast of the country.

The high speed on a curve caused 15 of the train's 19 cars to overturn, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

The government on Thursday revised the initial death toll, saying that 48 people were killed, down from an earlier issued figure of 57.

The final toll stands at "48 dead and 160 injured, including 12 seriously", Mende said.

Witnesses said the train was carrying hundreds of passengers both inside and on top of its carriages, and many people were still trapped in the mangled wreckage after the accident.

A medical team from an army base in Kamina has gone to help survivors, while Martin Kobler, who heads the United Nations mission in the country (MONUSCO), said he had asked its personnel to bring all needed assistance.

Mende said it appeared that engine failure had caused the train to speed out of control, but added that an investigation was under way into the exact reason for the crash.

Train crashes are fairly frequent in DR Congo, where the railway lines were built under Belgian colonial rule.

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