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Cameroon rescuers continue to search for bodies after train crash

Rescue teams are struggling to pull bodies from a derailed train wreck in southwest Cameroon, two days after the crash killed more than 70 people. Several carriages fell into a ravine, crushing passengers to death.

Rescuers were focused on the ravine into which four of the wagons plunged when the overcrowded train, traveling from Yaounde to the port city of Douala, derailed on Friday near the southwestern town of Eseka.

Recovery teams were struggling to extract bodies intact, as many were trapped under the carriages, some of which fell on top of each other, Radio France International (RFI) reported on Sunday.

Nationwide grief

Cameroon's President Paul Biya put the death toll at more than 70, describing how another 600 passengers had been injured in the crash, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Yaounde.

"I instructed the government to provide full assistance to the survivors, while investigations will be made to determine the cause of the derailment," he said. 

Biya declared a national day of mourning for the victims on Monday.

Cameroon train crash

Four of the train's 20 carriages slipped down a ravine during Friday's derailment

The Associated Press news agency reported that several bodies remained strewn along the tracks two days after the crash.

Train overloaded

The 20-carriage train, which was carrying 1,300 passengers - more than double its load capacity - derailed as, one by one, wagons detached themselves from the convoy.

A larger number of passengers were traveling on the train due to the collapse of a section of the main highway between Yaounde and Douala earlier in the day.

Witnesses, including a reporter for the Reuters news agency travelling on the train, said rail workers had added additional carriages to accommodate extra passengers before its departure, though it is not clear if that decision contributed to the accident.

The rail company, Camrail, rejected complaints from victims' families that they had been abandoned, stressing that crisis centers had been set up in the two cities.

Psychological support was being provided to families, RFI cited a Camrail representative as saying.

Engineers were at the scene on Sunday to evaluate the damage and the rail tracks were expected to resume operations soon, according to a rail transportation official.

Watch video 01:31

Catastrophic train wreck in Camaroon

mm/jlw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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