According to the National Railway Company, the cause of the accident is not yet known. However, the UN’s radio Okapi said that the train caught fire after crashing into a ravine. The train was transporting 13 oil tankers and derailed while climbing a slope near the station of Lubudi, Okapi said.
Much of Congo’s rail network dates back to the colonial era and has had little maintenance in decades of conflict.
The mineral-rich Katanga region alone has witnessed several deadly train accidents in recent years. Three years ago, in 2014, a freight train derailed killing 74 people and injured 163.
According to Al-Jazeera, more than 2,000 people, three times the train’s capacity, squeeze into its carriages and bathrooms to travel across the conflict-stricken region.
The train known as the “swallow” has been around for more than 50 years. The old engine was bought second-hand in South Africa.
A relay of 10 train drivers is needed to cover the 1,600-kilometre-long journey across the Central African nation.