DRC train derailment kills 24, mostly children, near Kananga

Freight train was carrying stowaways when it derailed in Bena Leka settlement, killing mostly children, officials say.

    At least 24 people have been killed and 31 injured in a train accident in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to police and medical services.

    A freight train was carrying stowaways on Sunday when it derailed in Bena Leka settlement, 140km north of Kananga, one of Kasai province's main towns.

    "We have retrieved 24 bodies, mostly children. It is a provisional toll because the wagons are still overturned," a railway police official in Bena Leka told AFP news agency.

    "Most of the passengers are stowaways because it is a freight train. We have suspended the search because night has just fallen in the area," said the source, who was at the site.

    "Several wagons have fallen into the water at the bridge over the Luembe River and five more wagons are still overturned."

    Derailment confirmed

    Casualties with severe injuries were taken to the hospital in nearby Kakenge settlement.

    "We are overwhelmed by the number of injured. We are working urgently. We have already admitted 31 injured," said Dr Jean Claude Tshimanga of Kakenge hospital.

    The national rail company confirmed the derailment.

    It is the third rail accident in about a month in central DRC. Five people were killed in a passenger train accident last month at the station in Kalenda.

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

    SOURCE: AFP news agency