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60 Feared Dead, Swept Off Train in Congo

Officials say over 60 people are believed to have died when they fell from a train traveling through the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The accident, which took place Monday, highlights the desperate state of infrastructure in Africa's third largest country, which is struggling to recover from decades of dictatorship, war and chaos.

More than 60 people are believed to have died when they were swept off a train and plummeted into a river or onto the ground in eastern Congo, local officials said Tuesday.

With vast distances to cover and public transport almost non-existent in the remote bush, Congolese are often forced to travel on the roofs of trains ferrying goods and passengers.

Koloso Sumaili, the governor of the eastern province of Maniema, said local officials told him goods and passengers were swept off the roof of the train by a beam supporting the bridge it was crossing.

They fell to the ground or into the river, he said, adding that the accident took place Monday as the train was traveling between the towns of Kindu and Lubumbashi.

Mr. Sumaili said the death toll was an initial estimation. But accidents in planes, trains and boats are common and often result in enormous losses of life in the Congo.

The country's infrastructure is in tatters after years of dictatorship and decay followed by two wars over the last decade.

Much of the transport across the mineral-rich but war-torn country is by air or river as roads and railways across Congo have crumbled or been swallowed up by the thick jungle.