Victims of Cameroon rail crash file charges against operator

November 7, 2016 4:32 AM EST

The train derailment site in Eseka, Cameroon October 24, 2016 days after a packed passenger train carrying more than 1,400 people between the capital Yaounde and the central African country's port city of Douala derailed. REUTERS/Josiane Kouagheu


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YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Victims of a rail crash that killed at least 79 people in Cameroon have filed a lawsuit against train operator Camrail and its French owner Bollore Group, accusing them of negligence and involuntary manslaughter, their lawyer said.

A packed passenger train derailed last month between the capital Yaounde and the central African country's port city of Douala. Carriages flipped over, injuring at least 428 people.

A Bollore executive said that the train was going at an unusually high speed and traveling with twice the usual number of carriages, with the permission of authorities, to accommodate extra passengers.

Twenty-eight victims have pressed charges for carelessness, injury and involuntary manslaughter, their lawyer Guy Oliver Moteng said late on Sunday.

"We want the blame and the chain of responsibility to be established."

Among the complainants are friends and family of three people who took the train and have not been found since, with no trace of them in hospitals or morgues, Moteng said.

Spokesmen for Camrail and Bollore declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying on Monday that they are awaiting the results of investigations.

The lawsuit was filed in the town of Eseka, where the train derailed, but Moteng said there is a possibility complaints will be raised in a court in Paris.

Cameroon's president Paul Biya created a government committee to look into the causes of the tragedy, and the company has also said it is carrying out an internal investigation.

Another train operated by Camrail derailed in 2009 near Yaounde, killing five people and injuring more than 200.

(Reporting by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu; Additional reporting and writing by Nellie Peyton)



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