The Igandu train disaster
was an accident which
occurred in the early morning of the 24 June
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.
had travelled from Dar es
Salaam to the state of Dodoma 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
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.
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 India.
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
Note: 100,000 shillings is roughly equivalent to $100