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Train Crash Kills 34 in Zimbabwe - 2003-02-01

At least 34 people have been killed in the worst rail crash in Zimbabwe's history.

Police say a passenger train and a freight train loaded with flammable material collided early Saturday. In the resulting fire, most of the dead were burned beyond recognition.

According to police, about 60 people were injured in the crash and taken to two hospitals in the mining town of Hwange in northwestern Zimbabwe.

Chief superintendent Bothwell Mugariri said it took four hours to put out the fire.

Coincidentally, there was another train accident early Saturday. It was in central Zimbabwe, and it is believed no one was killed or injured.

Last month, five people were killed in another train crash in Zimbabwe, and there have been repeated derailments in various parts of the country's rail network.

Safety experts say Zimbabwe's rail infrastructure is disintegrating, and the government has acknowledged there is a crisis. It says a chronic shortage of foreign currency has led to cutbacks on track and rolling stock repairs.

Because of problems with the railroads, the United Nations World Food Program has had to rely mainly on trucks to bring food into Zimbabwe, where it is feeding more than three million people, a quarter of the population.