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Congo train crash death toll rises to 76

Published: 10:35PM Wednesday June 23, 2010 Source: Reuters

A train derailment in Congo Republic killed 76 people and injured 745, according to a new, increased death toll reported by state radio citing hospital and Red Cross sources.

"The last body was recovered Tuesday night at the site of the derailment," Radio Congo reported.

"The definitive toll from the train accident as established by the crisis commission and the Red Cross stands at 76 dead and 745 injured," according to the broadcast.

Part of a passenger train plunged into a ravine while speeding around a corner on a dangerous rail link between the coastal town of Pointe-Noire and the capital Brazzaville on Tuesday, officials said. The government initially said 48 people died.

A lack of roads linking the main towns has made the train line a favoured means of transport for Congolese, and carriages are often overcrowded with travellers. At least 50 people were killed on the line in 2001, many of them burned to death, when two trains collided at Mvougounti around 75 km east of Pointe-Noire.

In 1991, about 100 people died when a passenger train slammed into a freight train, also at Mvougounti.

Difficult transportation from the sea port of Pointe-Noire has contributed to the high cost of food and imported goods in the capital and throughout neighbouring landlocked nations.

Chinese engineers started work late last year on a $500 million road linking the towns, a project that will involve crossing equatorial forest and steep mountains.