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The Igandu train disaster was an accident which occurred in the early morning of the 24 June 2002 in the East African country of Tanzania when a large passenger train with over 1,200 people on board rolled backwards down a hill into a stationary goods train, killing 281 people in the worst rail accident in African history.


The train had travelled from Dar es Salaammarker to the state of Dodomamarker in Central Tanzania, had passed Msagali, and was nearing the city of Dodoma, when it began climbing the tracks at a hill called Igandu. It is believed that there was a fault with the train's brakes as it climbed the hill. The driver stopped the train near the summit of the hill, inspected and adjusted the braking system and climbed back into the cab. When he started the train again, the brakes failed totally, causing the train to roll, with great velocity, straight back down the hill, crashing into a stationary goods train waiting at the bottom.Local people joined with ambulance services to rescue as many as they could. The shortage of doctors at Dodoma hospital was so severe that the Tanzanian health minister, Dr. Anna Abdallah was called in to help with the upwards of 400 badly injured people. Rescue teams were also hampered by the lack of large cutting machinery or industrial equipment needed to cut or lift wreckage off injured people, which did not arrive until the evening.

Four days after the incident, the Tanzanian government released a statement to the effect that 281 people had been killed in the crash, or had subsequently died in hospital, although this figure was likely to rise, given the number of people critically injured. 88 bodies were never identified, and were buried in a mass grave outside Dodoma. The state owned railway company, Tanzania Railways Corporation, later presented payments of between 100,000 and 500,000 shillings to the families of the victims, a pay-out viewed with anger by some, who blame the TRC for the crash.

In the months running up to the accident, Tanzania had been searching for a private company to take over the dilapidated state railway system, and had been interviewing representatives of European and South African companies. It has been suggested by some that this speculation had caused a drop in the already low efficiency of TRC's employees, and a reduction in the amount of maintenance performed on the equipment, thus leading to a sudden brake failure. Eventually, the TRC was bought by the Rites Consortium of Indiamarker.

There was also speculation, emphatically denied by both the organisation and the Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye, that the crash was sabotage committed by angry train union members, protesting the sale of the company. No evidence proving this has ever been provided.

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Note: 100,000 shillings is roughly equivalent to $100

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