Train crash in southern Congo 'kills 60'

The aftermath of the train crash in the south of Congo-Brazzaville

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About 60 people have been killed in a train crash in the south of Congo-Brazzaville, officials have said.

The head of the rail operator, Chemin de Fer Congo-Ocean (CFCO), said it occurred on Monday night about 60km (37 miles) from the city of Pointe-Noire.

The train is believed to have derailed as it went round a corner in a remote area between Bilinga and Tchitondi, throwing four carriages into a ravine.

The dead and wounded have been taken to hospitals and morgues in Pointe-Noire.

"There was a grave train accident during the night," CFCO director-general Sauveur Joseph El Bez told the AFP news agency. "There are dozens of victims and injured."

"The material damage was also very severe," he added. "All steps have been taken to organise relief."

Poorly maintained
Map

A special adviser to the ministry of transport, Alphonse Pepa, confirmed there had been a "serious train accident, but we do not yet have an assessment".

Some 60 bodies had been recovered, unnamed officials say.

The BBC's Will Ross says the 500km (310 miles) railway line was built during the 1920s and 1930s using forced labour, when France was the colonial power. Thousands died during the project.

It has since been poorly maintained, our correspondent says.

The whole line between the capital Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire was closed down in the late 1990s during the country's civil war. There have been at least two serious accidents since it re-opened.

This is the second accident in the country in recent days. A plane carrying mostly Australian mining executives crashed over the weekend, killing all 11 passengers on board.

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