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Mozambique in Mourning After Train Disaster - 2002-05-26

Mozambicans have begun three-days of national mourning for around 200-people killed in the country's worst train disaster. Mozambique rail officials the likely cause of the accident was human error, citing a train driver who used large stones in an attempt to wedge a packed passenger train in place on an incline. The stones gave way, sending the train hurtling down a hill to slam into a stationary freight train.

The train was en route to South Africa when it developed a mechanical fault going up a hill at Moamba, about 40 kilometers west of the capital, Maputo.

The railway line has been reopened to traffic.

Funerals for victims have begun, as authorities continue to plead for blood donations for the injured. Hundreds have responded to the call, but officials say they need more blood because supplies were depleted even before the accident.

President Joaquim Chissano toured the crash site as a three-day national mourning period got under way. He and opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama visited some of the injured in Maputo hospitals.

The crash is Mozambique's worst rail accident. Some reports said rescue workers were overcome at the severe mutilation of the dead. The investigation continues.