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Congo Train Crash Kills at Least 30

January 11, 2001

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) _ Rescuers were sifting through wreckage Thursday after two freight trains collided in this central African nation, killing at least 30 people, officials said.

Transportation Ministry officials said the brakes of one of the trains failed as they approached the same station from different directions Wednesday morning along the line linking the capital, Brazzaville, to the port city of Pointe-Noire.

By Thursday afternoon, about 30 bodies had been recovered from the scene just outside of Nvoungouti station, 250 miles south of Brazzaville. But many more dead were believed to be in the wreckage, said Therese Issabou, spokeswoman for the transportation ministry.

Doctors said 45 people were treated for injuries at a hospital in Pointe-Noire.

While neither train accepted passengers, people routinely ride clandestinely along the 315-mile line.

The country’s only railway line closed for two years after it was sabotaged by militia fighters loyal to ousted President Pascal Lissouba. The government of President Sassou-Nguesso reopened the line last August after major repairs, but it still lacks communication systems.

In December 1998, fighting broke out between government forces and militias loyal to Lissouba and former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas. Cease-fire agreements were signed a year later.

Sassou-Nguesso’s Cobra militia force ousted Lissouba’s elected government in 1997.

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