On 13 January, 1985 an express train carrying seven cars and an estimated one thousand people destined for Addis Ababa, derailed when it reached a curve 125 miles east of the capital. . It was suspected that the train engineer failed to reduce speed at reaching the curve which resulted in the train derailing and plunging into a ravine. About 400 people died and about 500 were injured in the accident.
The accident occurred in the town of Awash which is located above a ravine on the Awash River. Seven of the train’s coaches plummeted into the ravine. The Ethiopian Red Cross played a crucial role in rescuing the injured. The engineer of the train was arrested for failing to reduce speed on approaching a curve.
The funeral of 282 of the victims was held in Awash while bodies of the rest of the victims were said to have been claimed by relatives. The exact number of victims who lost their lives in the accident while estimated to be around 400, was never confirmed. It is the worst train disaster ever in Africa.