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68 die in train crash in remote region of Congo

  • Story Highlights
  • Train crash in central Democratic Republic of Congo kills 68, wounds 128
  • Survivors taken "by foot or by bicycle" to hospital almost 8 miles away
  • U.N. peacekeepers helped with rescues, sent doctors, nurses, authorities
  • Peace force, the U.N.'s biggest, in Congo to help it recover from five-year war
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KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -- A train crash in a remote location in central Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 68 people, the United Nations peacekeeping force said on Thursday.

"There are 68 dead and 128 severely wounded," U.N. mission spokesman Kemal Saiki said.

The accident took place late on Wednesday near Benaleka, around 220 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of the town of Kananga in Western Kasai province, he said.

"Survivors of the accident have been transported by foot or by bicycle 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) to the nearest hospital," he said.

The U.N. peacekeeping force, known by its French acronym MONUC, helped with rescue operations on Thursday.

"It happened last night around 11 o'clock. This afternoon we sent a helicopter with doctors, nurses, and local authorities. At the moment, they are on the ground there," said Alexandre Essone, a MONUC public information officer in Kananga.

"We suspect there still may be people trapped under the wagons. We need heavy machinery, though, to lift these wagons," Essone said.

The peacekeeping force, the United Nations' biggest, is in Congo to help the huge, chaotic country recover from a five-year war that began in 1998, since then an estimated 4 million people have been killed by violence or related hunger and disease. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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