Awash rail disaster

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On January 13, 1985, an express train derailed on a curving bridge over the gorge of the Awash River at Awash, Ethiopia. The official death toll was 428, with more than 500 injuries.


The accident train was an express traveling from Dire Dawa to Addis Ababa on the rail line from Djibouti. It was reportedly overcrowded with approximately 1,000 passengers. Crossing the curved 40 feet (12 m) bridge over the ravine at Awash, four of the train's carriages derailed, beginning with the rear carriage. All fell into the ravine.[1][2][3][4][5]

Initial reports were that as many as 449 had been killed;[2][3] Ethiopian radio later reported 428 deaths.[6] More than 500 were said to have been injured.[4]

The accident was, and remains, the deadliest train crash in Africa, and was at the time the third-worst train accident worldwide.[1][2][3][5][7]


The Ethiopian Ministry of Transportation blamed the crash on excessive speed at the curve; the driver was arrested.[2][3][8][7]


  1. ^ a b "A passenger train traveling through Ethiopia hurtled off the..." United Press International. January 14, 1985.
  2. ^ a b c d May, Clifford D. (January 15, 1985). "Ethiopian train falls off bridge; 392 are killed". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c d "Rail-crash toll may pass 400 in Ethiopia". Chicago Tribune. January 15, 1985. p. 1.
  4. ^ a b "Train Derails in Ethiopia, 418 Die : 559 Injured; Officials Fear Wreck May Slow Famine Relief". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. January 14, 1985.
  5. ^ a b "The world's worst train disasters". Railway January 2, 2014.
  6. ^ "428 dead". Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky. Associated Press. January 17, 1985. p. 8A.
  7. ^ a b "Express train derails in Ethiopia, killing an estimated 400 people". South African History Online. January 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "Driver blamed for train crash". Ottawa Citizen. Canadian Press. January 15, 1985. p. A7.