The UN’s radio Okapi said there had been 33 fatalities in the accident on Sunday.
It occurred in the mining region of Katana, close to the border with Zambia and Angola, in the DRC province of Lualaba.
“Thirty-three” people were killed, Richard Muyej Mangez Mans, the governor of Lualaba province, told AFP, confirming Okapi’s toll.
“Twenty-six people who were seriously injured have been admitted to hospital. Doctors have been sent from Kolwezi to help those who are lightly injured.”
“Work is continuing to search for any survivors in the wreckage,” he said.
Access to the site is difficult because of the poor state of the roads during the rainy season, he said.
The Red Cross said it was unable to give a toll. The train, in which the victims were travelling illegally, was running between the country’s second city of Lubumbashi and Luena.
The train, transporting 13 oil tankers, derailed while climbing a slope at Buyofwe, a station 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Lubudi. It fell into a ravine and the tankers caught fire, radio Okapi said.
“It’s a freight train that derailed and it wasn’t supposed to be carrying passengers. If there were people on board, we consider them to be illegal travellers,” said Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba, a senior official from the national railway company SNCC.
Katanga — a vast mineral-rich region the size of Spain — has witnessed several deadly train accidents. In April 2014, a freight train derailed killing 74 people and injured 163, according to officials but the Red Cross said up to 200 corpses had been buried.
The national news agency a month later reported 136 deaths.
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