YAOUNDE (AFP) – Fifty-five people were killed and almost 600 injured when a packed Cameroon passenger train derailed on Friday (Oct 21) while travelling from the capital Yaounde to the economic hub Douala, the transport minister said.
The train, crammed with people due to road traffic disruption between the two cities, came off the tracks just before reaching the central city of Eseka, transport minister Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o said.
Several carriages swung off the track as the train derailed leaving debris strewn across adjacent rail tracks.
The minister, via state broadcaster CRTV, said 55 people had been confirmed dead and a further 575 were injured in the incident, updating an earlier toll.
“The cause of the accident is not yet clear,” he said, adding that several of the injured were in very serious condition.
Transport ministry officials have rushed to the accident site. The train left Yaounde at around 11.00 am (6pm Singapore time) and derailed around midday some 200 kilometres from the capital, the transport minister said.
The train route was particularly busy after a bridge on the road linking Yaounde and Douala collapsed in heavy rain overnight Thursday, paralysing traffic and sending extra waves of travellers onto trains.
“Intervention and security teams have been mobilised,” the rail company Camrail, a subsidiary of French investment group Bollore, announced.