At least 10 stowaways dead as DR Congo train derails

BUKAVU, DR CONGO (AFP) - At least 10 stowaways were killed and 24 were injured when a freight train derailed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said Sunday (Nov 11).

Rehema Omari, stationmaster in the town of Samba near where the accident occurred on Friday, said the toll was provisional.

"The brakes gave way when the train was going at top speed," she told AFP, adding that the driver had fled.

A migration service official said however that he saw "at least 30 mangled bodies and others under the cars" of the train.

State rail company SNCC's director general for Lubumbashi, Ilunga Ilunkamba, said experts were on the scene to determine the final toll and investigate the causes of the accident.

SNCC is headquartered in Lubumbashi, the DR Congo's mining capital, where the train had been headed from the central city of Kindu when it derailed near Samba some 280 kilometres to the south, Omari said.

Rail accidents in the sprawling former Belgian colony are frequent and often deadly because of decrepit track and ageing locomotives dating from the 1960s.

In November 2017, 35 people, many of them clandestine passengers, were killed when a freight train carrying 13 oil tankers plunged into a ravine in southern Lualaba province.