At least 57 people have died in a train crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo's southeast, according to a government spokesman.

The accident on Tuesday involved a goods train that was also carrying people near Likasi, a mining town located between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi.

"Thirty-seven people have died, but the police fear that there will be more," Lambert Mende, a government spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

He added that it appeared that engine failure had caused the train to speed out of control.

The Reuters news agency reported that Dikanga Kazadi, Katanga's interior minister, said 63 people were killed and another 80 people were seriously injured in the crash. Reuters also reported that 50 people were trapped inside the train after 12 of its carriages flipped off the track.

"Evidently the train was going too fast, the driver came to a curve and had to break suddenly leading to the accident," Kazadi said.

An investigation is currently under way to determine the cause of Tuesday's crash, but Kazadi said the priority is to rescue those still trapped.

The country's infrastructure is in poor condition due to decades of neglect and conflict.

The World Bank is currently funding a refurbishment of the train network, which has received few upgrades since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

More than 100 people were killed in a 2007 accident involving a goods train in the province of Kasai Occidential.

Source: Agencies