At least 55 people were killed and 575 injured on Friday when a packed passenger train traveling between Cameroon’s two largest cities derailed and overturned, the country’s government said.
Fourteen people remained trapped under the wreckage on Friday, the government said in a communiqué read on state television.
The accident occurred near the train station in Eséka, a town about 50 miles west of the capital, Yaoundé. The intercity passenger train was traveling from Yaoundé to the commercial hub Douala when the accident occurred around 11 a.m.
Before the train’s departure from Yaoundé, a railway employee said additional cars had been added to the train to accommodate extra passengers, though it was unclear if that had played a role in the accident.
The collapse of a bridge along the main highway between the capital and Douala had prompted an increase in the number of passengers taking the journey by rail.
Joel Bineli, a passenger, said he saw dismembered bodies on the tracks.
Social media users posted photos taken at the scene of the accident that showed several cars overturned on a slope beside the rail line.
“Rescue workers arrived, and they are pulling bodies from the wagon,” said Rachelle Paden, another passenger. “I’ve already counted around 40 bodies they’ve removed.”
The train service, Camrail, which is operated by Bolloré Railways of France, said that it had sent teams to the site and that victims were being transported to a local hospital and to Douala. A Bolloré spokesman confirmed only that an accident had occurred.
Many rail lines in western and central Africa have a reputation for poor maintenance and failures to respect safety procedures. Derailments are relatively common.
Though Bolloré is generally viewed as a reliable operator, part of a bridge along a line it controls in Ivory Coast collapsed under a freight train last month.