Cameroon Red Cross response team provides emergency support following train accident

Publié: 23 octobre 2016 8:53 CET

By Alistair Dawber, IFRC 


At least 70 people were killed on Friday when a packed passenger train derailed in central Cameroon. The Cameroon Red Cross was on the scene within hours providing first aid and psycho-social support to victims of the crash. 


The train, which was travelling between the country’s two biggest cities – Yaounde and Douala – is understood to have been overcrowded after a road connecting to two hubs was closed. Reports suggest that as many as 1,300 people were crammed on board the train, which usually carries just 600.


The Cameroon state broadcaster, CRTV, said that a further 575 people were injured.


The Cameroon Red Cross was on the scene within hours of the accident. The only non-governmental humanitarian organisation that attended the crash site on Friday, it deployed 25 volunteers to attend the injured.


“The site of the accident is truly unbearable but the spontaneous humanity and solidarity of local people, civil protection and Red Cross volunteers has been heartwarming,” said Bernard Ayissi, Secretary General of the Cameroon Red Cross, who was also at the scene of the crash on Friday night.


The train came off the tracks just before reaching the central city of Eseka, transport minister Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo'o said.


"The cause of the accident is not yet clear," he said, adding that several of the injured were in a very serious condition.


The Cameroon Red Cross reported that the scene of the crash was remote, and made more difficult to attend on account of poor weather conditions.


The train left Yaounde at around 11:00 am local time and derailed around midday some 200 kilometres from the capital, the transport minister said.


The train route was particularly busy after a bridge on the road linking Yaounde and Douala collapsed in heavy rain overnight on Thursday, paralysing traffic and sending extra waves of travellers onto trains.


Cameroon Red Cross volunteers reported that there was chaos at the scene of the accident on Friday night, but that many people from surrounding villages helped in assisting them.


A heavy duty crane was expected to arrive at the scene on Saturday, with fears that more bodies could be discovered once the four train carriages that derailed were moved.


The Cameroon Red Cross is conducting a needs evaluation and may shortly issue a call for support.