Cameroon rail ac­ci­dent toll rises to at least 70

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

YAOUNDE — At least 70 were killed when a packed pas­sen­ger train de­railed be­tween Cameroon’s two main cities, a hos­pi­tal source in the cap­i­tal Yaounde said on Satur­day, giv­ing a new toll the day af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

Al­most 600 peo­ple were in­jured when the train, trav­el­ling from Yaounde to the eco­nomic hub of Douala, came off the rails near the cen­tral city of Eseka at around mid­day on Fri­day.

“We have re­ceived be­tween 60 and 70 bod­ies at the sta­tion this morn­ing,” a rail­way of­fi­cial who asked not to be iden­ti­fied told AFP in Yaounde on Satur­day.

The train was crammed with peo­ple be­cause a col­lapsed bridge had made trav­el­ling the same route by road im­pos­si­ble. “Some of the wounded are ar­riv­ing un­con­scious. We think the death toll will rise,” said the rail­way of­fi­cial, adding that the in­jured had been taken to var­i­ous hos­pi­tals in the cap­i­tal.

Pas­sen­gers’ rel­a­tives thronged the city’s main hos­pi­tal to look for their loved ones.

At the hos­pi­tal’s morgue “there are 28 uniden­ti­fied bod­ies. The iden­ti­fied bod­ies are at an­other morgue,” said a po­lice­man on duty there.

The first per­son al­lowed into the morgue, a woman, emerged in tears. “She recog­nised the body of her sis­ter,” ex­plained one of the peo­ple with her.

As she waited her turn to en­ter, an­other woman, Fadi­ma­tou, said, “We have had no news from our sis­ter since yes­ter­day. We don’t know whether she is alive.

“Her phone was ring­ing yes­ter­day but it wasn’t since this morn­ing. Her hus­band is look­ing for her in Douala.”

Dan Njoya said he had come to the morgue “to see if the body of my four-month-old baby is here.”

Most of those in­jured in the ac­ci­dent were taken to hos­pi­tals in Douala, med­i­cal sources said. On Fri­day evening, the trans­port min­is­ter said 55 peo­ple were known to have died and 575 were in­jured in the ac­ci­dent.

State-run tele­vi­sion re­ported that many of the in­jured were in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion and that the cause of the ac­ci­dent had not been dis­cov­ered.

Also Fri­day, rail op­er­a­tor Cam­rail, a sub­sidiary of French in­vest­ment group Bol­lore, said it had de­ployed “in­ter­ven­tion and se­cu­rity teams” to the site of the ac­ci­dent.

Emer­gency ser­vices were sent from Douala to re­in­force teams closer to the scene, while fire­fight­ers were com­ing from Eseka, Doula re­gional gover­nor Dieudonne Ivaha Di­boua said.

Po­lice had cor­doned off the rail­way sta­tions in both cities on Satur­day.

The road bridge col­lapsed on Thurs­day night as a re­sult of heavy rain, which also hin­dered the de­ploy­ment of res­cue ser­vices to the scene of the ac­ci­dent.

The road is one of the busiest in the coun­try and one of the main com­mer­cial routes in cen­tral Africa, car­ry­ing trade to­wards land­locked Chad and the Cen­tral African Repub­lic.

Many trav­ellers were still stuck on ei­ther side of the col­lapsed bridge late Fri­day, Mar­tial Mis­simikim of road safety NGO Se­curoute said. — AFP.

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