Awash rail disaster

Last updated

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. It is the worst recorded train crash in Africa.



The train was an express traveling from Dire Dawa to Addis Ababa on the rail line from Djibouti, overcrowded with approximately 1,000 passengers. Crossing the bridge over the ravine at Awash, which is 40 feet (12 m) long and curving, four cars derailed, beginning with the rear car, and 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]

It was the most deadly train crash in Africa and 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]

Related Research Articles

Awash, Ethiopia Place in Afar Region, Ethiopia

Awash Subah' Town Administration is a market town in central Ethiopia. Located in Administrative Zone 3 of the Afar Region, above a gorge on the Awash River, after which the town is named, the town lies on the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway, which crosses the gorge by a bridge there. It is the largest settlement in Awash Fentale woreda.

The Ghotki rail crash occurred on 13 July 2005, at around 3:40am local time near Ghotki, Pakistan. No. 24 Dn train stopped at the station of Sarhad was hit from behind by the following Karachi Express train, causing several cars to derail; these were then hit by a third train running in the opposite direction (Tezgam). A total of seventeen train cars, carrying over 3000 passengers, were wrecked. Estimates of the death toll ranged as high as over 130. It was the worst train accident in Pakistan in fifteen years.

The railways of New South Wales, Australia have had many incidents and accidents since their formation in 1831..

The Yanga derailment occurred on 21 June 2010 when a train travelling between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in the Republic of the Congo was derailed and plunged into a ravine. At least 60 people were initially reported to have been killed and hundreds disappeared with the death toll expected to rise further. The death toll had risen to 76 people and the injury toll had risen to 745 by 23 June 2010.

2018 Yilan train derailment train derailed in Yilan County, Taiwan on 21 October 2018

On 21 October 2018, a passenger train derailed in Yilan County, Taiwan, killing 18 people and injuring 187. It was Taiwan's worst rail accident since a collision near Miaoli in 1991 killed 30 people.


  1. 1 2 "A passenger train traveling through Ethiopia hurtled off the..." United Press International. January 14, 1985.
  2. 1 2 3 4 May, Clifford D. (January 15, 1985). "Ethiopian train falls off bridge; 392 are killed". The New York Times .
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Rail-crash toll may pass 400 in Ethiopia". Chicago Tribune . January 15, 1985. p. 1.
  4. 1 2 "Train Derails in Ethiopia, 418 Die : 559 Injured; Officials Fear Wreck May Slow Famine Relief". Los Angeles Times . Associated Press. January 14, 1985.
  5. 1 2 "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. 1 2 "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.