News24

Death toll rises in rail crashes

2009-08-31 17:16

Yaounde - The casualty figures from two separate fatal rail accidents in Cameroon last week have risen to seven dead and more than 300 injured, Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said on Monday.

On Friday, a train carrying freight and petroleum products derailed in the capital Yaounde, triggering a fire. One person was initially reported killed, while another was badly hurt and two firemen were affected by fumes.

"Now we have two dead. The man injured in the fire died on Saturday," Tchiroma said.

The 11 wagons that were carrying diesel fuel and petrol in the 30-car train were destroyed in the blaze, which was triggered by sparks after the initial derailment.

The following day, a passenger train carrying about 1 000 people derailed in Yaounde, killing five people and injuring 303, according to figures given by Tchiroma on Monday.

Some of the carriages had rolled off the track into ditches. The previous number issued of people hurt was 275, while rescuers searched for more bodies or trapped survivors.

Cameroon's President Paul Biya on Monday expressed his "deep compassion" for the families of victims of the two accidents, in a message published by the state daily Cameroon Tribune.

"I have asked the prime minister to pursue investigations into the circumstances of these accidents," Biya's message said.