- This is the latest train disaster in the DRC, which lacks sufficient means of transportation.
- "Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll," the union head of the national rail company told reporters.
- Freight train derailments are common in the DRC, where they are used by many people as they are the most available means of transport.
A train derailment near Mayibaridi, in the Tanganyika region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulted in an accident that left at least 50 people dead and several others injured. The accident occurred on Thursday, early morning.
This is the latest train disaster in the DRC, a vast country in Sub-Saharan Africa without sufficient means of transportation. The official provisional record could be even higher, according to various eyewitnesses. Congo’s minister for humanitarian action, Steve Mbikayi, confirmed the bad news via Twitter. He tweeted, “Derailment at 3 AM in Tanganyika near Mayibaridi. Provisional toll: 50 dead and several wounded!”
The freight train was on its way from Nyunzu, heading to Niemba, when its two carriages fell on their sides, said Victor Umba, union head of the national rail company SNCC. “Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll,” Mr. Umba told journalists. Umba also pointed out that the SNCC’s chief was in Kalemie, the local provincial capital, in a bid to find a way to raise the fallen carriages. “It seems that many stowaways are trapped under the derailed carriages,” he stated.
Witnesses who spoke to journalists pointed out that there is a possibility that hundreds of deaths will be reported after the whole search for the missing persons process is completed, since the chances are high that many victims are stuck under the derailed carriages. Freight train derailments are common in the DRC, where they are used by many people as they are the most available means of transport.
Like many public corporations in the DRC, the national railway company of Congo (SNCC) is on the brink of bankruptcy. Its former executive director, Sylvestre Ilunga, is the current Prime Minister of the coalition government of President Félix Tshisekedi’s forces, and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila. DRC railways are well known for their poor safety record, with their many old and mechanically faulty trains, many of them having been assembled in the 1960s and poorly maintained.
To date, many train accidents have been reported in the country. For instance, in March, at least 24 people lost their lives, and 31 sustained serious injuries when a freight train ferrying illegal passengers crashed in Kasai, in the nation’s central region. Also, 10 stowaways lost their lives and 24 sustained serious injuries in November 2018 near Samba, the DRC’s eastern town, when a freight train’s brakes failed. Whereas in November 2017, in the country’s southern Lualaba province, 35 people lost their lives following the plunging into a ravine of a freight train that was carrying 13 oil tankers.