GOMA (Reuters) – Up to 50 people were killed when a cargo train derailed in Congo’s southeastern province of Tanganyika in the early hours of Thursday, government officials said, though reports on casualties differed widely.
The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Steve Mbikayi, said the derailment happened around 3 a.m. local time (0100 GMT), near the town of Mayibaridi, and gave a provisional death toll of 50.
But the governor of Tanganyika, Zoe Kabila, gave a lower estimate: 10 people killed and 30 injured. He said three of the train’s carriages had come off the tracks.
Mbikayi later told Reuters the ministry was aware of the contradictory death tolls and was trying to establish the exact number.
Deadly transport accidents are common in Democratic Republic of Congo due to poor infrastructure and lack of regulation.
The national railway company confirmed an accident had taken place. Hubert Tshiakama, the company’s head of operations, said the untouched front carriages of the train were once again on their way to the town of Kalemie.
“For now, we cannot determine the causes of the accident,” he said.
Reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini; Editing by Alex Richardson and Andrew Cawthorne