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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
Human error blamed in Tanzania crash
Wreckage from the train
The report said Tanzania needs a national disaster unit
Tanzania's worst ever train disaster, which killed almost 300 people and injured hundreds more, was caused by human error and driver negligence, an official investigation has concluded.

Map of Tanzania
The crash occurred in June this year, when a passenger train carrying more than 1,200 people lost power on the brow of a hill near the capital, Dodoma, and rolled back at high speed into a freight train.

The government report gave no reason for the power failure, but found that the passenger train's driver and guard wasted time instead of applying the brakes manually.

"The basic reason why the train raced backward was a result of human error due to the driver's inexperience," the report said.

Disaster unit needed

Survivors said that the driver, Godfrey Chiwelesa, who has been on bail since the accident, jumped out of the train as it began rolling backwards.

Bodies lie on the ground from the crash
Many bodies were so badly burned they were not identified

He suffered minor injuries in the disaster, but has not been charged so far, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The government report also found that the train's third class compartments were overloaded and had no partitioning which made them collapse easily.

The investigative team has recommended that the Tanzanian Government form a national disaster unit to cope with such disasters.

Victims' award

The report follows a government inquiry and the decision to award some 200 families of victims of the June train crash in Tanzania about $700 each.

A much smaller amount - about $140 - would also be paid to those injured, said Tanzanian Government minister William Lukuvi.

The payment would only be made on behalf of the 206 people so far officially identified and confirmed as victims.

Many of the bodies were so badly disfigured they were not identified and they were buried together in a mass ceremony in Dodoma.

See also:

05 Sep 02 | Africa
26 Jun 02 | Africa
25 Jun 02 | Africa
25 Jun 02 | Africa
24 Jun 02 | Africa
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