Train derailment kills 55, wound almost 600 in Cameroon

The death toll is rising at the site of a train derailment in Cameroon, with President Paul Biya saying the crash of the crowded vehicle Friday killed more than 70 people and wounded 600 more. Rail officials said the train had been carrying 1,300 passengers, instead of the usual 600 when it derailed in Eseka on Friday.

More than 500 persons have been injured in the accident, which occurred near a station in the small town of Eseka in central region, Efe news reported.

The train left Yaounde at around 11:00 am local time and derailed around midday some 200 kilometres from the capital, the transport minister said.

The train route became particularly busy after a bridge on a main road, linking the two major cities, was washed away in heavy rains overnight Thursday, disrupting traffic and sending extra waves of travelers onto trains.

The train came off the tracks just before reaching the central city of Eseka, transport minister Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo'o said. His elder brother 42-year old teacher Nlend Rigobert said they found the dead body in Yaounde after searching for it in vain in Douala.

According to the report, President Paul Biya has put the death toll at more than 70, adding that 600 had been injured in the accident. The victims' bodies were taken to the morgue of Eseka hospital, while the injured were admitted to health centre of the city and neighbouring localities of Puma, Lolodorf and Douala.

Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said that security services were immediately mobilized to help the victims.

"I instructed the government to provide full assistance to the survivors, while investigations will be made to determine the cause of the derailment", he said.