The Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity says that at least 50 people have been killed after a train derailed overnight in Congo's southeast Tanganyika province.
Steve Mbikayi told The Associated Press Thursday that the derailment also injured 23 others near the Mayibaridi locality and the toll may climb as people are still under the train and must be rescued. He said the government is sending rescue workers to the scene.
The train derailed around 3 a.m. (02:00 GMT) in the province of Tanganyika, in the southeast of the central African country.
Witnesses at the scene and local media feared more than a hundred people could have been killed.
Victor Umba, the union head of the national rail company SNCC, said the freight train was traveling from the town of Nyunzu to the town of Niemba when two carriages fell on their sides.
"Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll," Umba told AFP.
He added that the SNCC's chief was in the provincial capital of Kalemie trying to find a way to raise the carriages.
"It seems that many stowaways are trapped under the derailed carriages".
The cause of the accident is not yet known, but there are often derailments due to the cost of maintaining railways and trains. Workers from the national railway company say they have several years of unpaid wages.
Railways in the DRC have a poor record for safety, hampered by derelict tracks and decrepit locomotives, many of them dating from the 1960s.
In March, at least 24 people were killed and 31 were injured Sunday when a freight train carrying illegal passengers crashed in the central region of Kasai.
In November last year, 10 stowaways were killed and 24 injured near the eastern town of Samba when the brakes failed on a freight train.
In November 2017, 35 people were killed when a freight train carrying 13 oil tankers plunged into a ravine in southern Lualaba province.
Like many state companies in DR Congo, the SNCC is on the brink of bankruptcy. Its former head Sylvestre Ilunga is the country's current prime minister.
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