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Tanzania Train Crash Death Toll Rises - 2002-06-25

Searchers in Tanzania have recovered the bodies of almost 200 people killed in the country's worst-ever train accident. Hundreds of people are in hospitals.

Tanzania's president, Benjamin Mkapa, was visibly moved when he visited the crash site. He told reporters the accident was one that his government was powerless to prevent. But he promised a full inquiry into the crash and a government statement is expected Wednesday.

Search efforts continued for a second day Tuesday with crumpled coaches being lifted by giant cranes or cut open with blowtorches.

Police, soldiers, firemen, members of parliament and local volunteers all have helped. But officials say they are not likely to find any more survivors.

About 1,200 passengers were on the train when the accident occurred at Msagali, just outside Tanzania's political capital, Dodoma. Officials say the train's engine failed and it rolled back down a hill, reaching a speed of 200 kilometers an hour, before it collided with a moving freight train.

All but one of the passenger train's 20 coaches derailed and overturned. Ten hours after the crash, people were still reported to be crying out for help from inside the wrecked train.

Meanwhile, hundreds of frantic people crowded into Dodoma hospital looking for their relatives.

The hospital morgue has not been able to cope with the huge number of crash victims. Instead, bodies are being laid out in a sports stadium awaiting identification.

The accident is the deadliest train crash Tanzania has ever experienced. The government announced two days of national mourning to grieve the loss.