DRC train crash kills at least 100 
Joe Bavier | Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo  
03 August 2007 07:08   Mail and Guardian.

A train crash in a remote part of Democratic Republic of Congo killed 
at least 100 people and injured more than 200, the Central African 
country's minister of information said on Thursday.

"We are still discovering the dead. So right now we are putting the 
death toll at about 100," Toussaint Tshilombo told Reuters, adding 
that the cause of the crash was still unknown. "It happened late last 
night [Wednesday], so we haven't had time to look into how it 
occurred. But we are sending a team tomorrow [Friday], and we will 
launch an investigation."

The accident took place late on Wednesday near Benaleka, about 220km 
north-west of the town of Kananga in Western Kasai province.

Injured survivors initially walked or were transported by bicycle 
from the scene of the wreck 12km to the nearest hospital, the DRC's 
United Nations peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym 
Monuc, said.

Of more than 220 hurt, 128 people were seriously injured, it said.

The UN peacekeeping force helped with rescue operations on 
Thursday. "It happened last night around 11 o'clock. This afternoon 
we sent a helicopter with doctors, nurses, and local authorities. At 
the moment, they are on the ground there," said Alexandre Essone, a 
Monuc public information officer in Kananga. "We suspect there still 
may be people trapped under the wagons. We need heavy machinery, 
though, to lift these wagons," he said.

The government was planning to send a delegation including Cabinet 
ministers, medical personnel and additional medical supplies on 
Friday to help in the aftermath of the disaster, Tshilombo said.

The DRC has few paved roads outside the capital Kinshasa, and many 
Congolese rely on trains as the only affordable way of crossing the 
Central African nation's vast interior.

Derailments are a regular occurrence and fatal accidents are common 
in the DRC, which is still recovering from decades of mismanagement 
and a 1998 to 2003 war that killed an estimated four million people 
and left infrastructure in ruins. - Reuters 

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