Reported in the News Letter on August 1, 1938: Dozens killed and injured in Jamaican rail disaster

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Fifty persons have been killed and 80 injured in the wreck of a passenger train carrying holiday-makers from Kingston to Montego Bay.

The train was derailed in a cutting near the town of Balaclava on Saturday afternoon [July 30], and all eight coaches were driven into a sheer wall of rock. They were telescoped and brought down a shower of boulders on to the wreckage.

The train carried 200 passengers, most of them residents of Kingston, who were going to Montego Bay for the celebrations in connection with the centenary of the abolition of slavery.

The leading locomotive ran off the lines first. The driver and fireman were killed. As the coaches followed a second locomotive, which was pushing the rear of the train, forced them into the side of the cutting.

The cause of the disaster has not yet been established.

Four special trains carrying rescue workers and breakdown gangs left Kingston at intervals, and one, which steamed out early yesterday morning, carried 50 coffins.

Mr Cresswell Powell, director of the Jamaica Government Railways, said that it was the worst disaster in the 95 years of their existence. He expressed deep sympathy with the bereaved.

Crowds of anxious relatives thronged the platforms of Kingston station throughout the night reading the names of the injured who had been admitted to hospital. So far the names of those killed have not been issued.