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Tanzania Train Crash Kills 100

June 24, 2002

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) _ An out-of-control passenger train going backward hit an oncoming cargo train in central Tanzania on Monday, and at least 100 people on the packed train were reported dead. Another 800 were injured.

As many as 1,000 people may have been in the 15 coach cars at the time, Sukulu Sudi, a spokeswoman for the Tanzania Railways Corporation, told state-run Radio Tanzania. The crash happened in Igandu, a village near Mpwapwa, 55 miles southeast of the country’s political capital, Dodoma.

All the passenger train’s coaches, except one second class coach, derailed and overturned, the state-owned corporation said.

The train was traveling from Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, to Mwanza and Kigoma in western Tanzania.

Tanzania’s decades-old trains are notoriously overcrowded on what is the main rail line through the country.

The corporation said in a statement that the train was out of control when it hit the freight train.

A police officer in Dodoma who spoke on condition of anonymity said the passenger train’s brakes failed. He said he saw bodies being ferried away from the accident in a truck.

Minister of Health Anna Abdalla, reached at Dodoma General Hospital, said medics were struggling to deal with the injured. Speaking over a din of shouts and screams, she said more than 100 seriously injured patients had been admitted to the hospital and 400 more were being treated at Mpwapwa’s hospital. Dodoma hospital had registered 50 deaths, she added.

Radio Tanzania reported that 100 people were killed and another 800 were hurt.

Parliament, which was meeting in Dodoma, was adjourned, and legislators led by Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye visited the scene of the accident. Radio Tanzania said the government declared two days of mourning.

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