Kenya: Accident investigators have begun to comb the wreckage of a train which crashed at Man-eaters junction
on 24 March 1999.
Carriages of the overnight Nairobi - Mombasa train in disarray at the scene of the accident
Solomon Ouma, technical services chief of the state-owned Kenya Railways Corporation told reporters "We will be taking away samples of everything: the tracks, the carriages, the wheels and the surrounds for our investigation".
The accident was on Kenya's main railway line between Nairobi and the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. The train was carrying about 614 passengers overnight between the two cities when it was derailed at about 01.30 local time (04.30 GMT). It occurred as the train approached Tsavo station about 300 km (200 miles) from Nairobi.
Although the reason for the accident is not immediately clear, a crewmember is quoted as saying that the trains brakes had failed. Earlier, survivors said that the train seemed to speed up just before the crash. Thirty-two people died in the accident and over 100 people were injured. Earlier reports had put the death toll as high as 50.
Survivors have told of difficulties in escaping from the wrecked train because all the doors were locked. The doors are kept locked to prevent robbers from entering trains at intermediate stops. Rescue efforts were severely hampered due to the remoteness and inaccesibilty of the region.
The line was built during the last century while the country was a British colony and has been little modified. It is a popular route with tourists and has become even more so since the main road was swept away during torrential rain.
Located near the Tsavo National Park, the junction is named after two lions which ate many of the workers during the railway's construction. A Holywood movie "The Ghost and the Darkness'' starring Michael Douglas took this story as its theme.
Another accident occurred on the same line in 1993. Sixty-one people were killed when a train fell into a flood swollen river after a bridge called 'Ngai Deithya' (God help us) had been swept away.
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