24 people, mostly children, dead after train derails in DR Congo

File photo showing derailed wagons after a train sped off the rails 65km north of Kamina, in the southern province of Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. (Getty Images)

At least 24 people, mostly children, died and 31 others were injured in a train derailment in Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.

A railway spokesperson told AFP that dozens of stowaways were riding on the freight train when it derailed. Several freight cars went off the tracks while many more fell over a bridge and into the Luembe River. The official also said that a search for survivors had to be suspended as night fell.

It (the number of people dead) is a provisional toll because the wagons (cars) are still overturned,” the official said.

Those who suffered serious injuries in the accident were rushed to Kakenge hospital.

“We are overwhelmed by the number of injured. We are working urgently. We have already admitted 31 injured,” a doctor at the hospital told AFP.

This latest incident brings to three the number of rail accidents in the central African country in nearly a month.

Rail accidents are common and fatal in the DR Congo due to minimal investment in an outdated rail system built during the colonial era and the continued use of old locomotives.

In September 2012, four people were killed and 37 others injured after an accident north of Lubumbashi. In 2014, at least 63 people were killed and 80 seriously injured when a speeding train derailed in Katanga.

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