About 100 people are dead after an overnight train accident in central Congo, government officials said Thursday.

Toussaint Tshilombo, a government spokesman,told the Associated Pressthe accident "resulted in a heavy toll of about 100 dead." Earlier reports estimated the death toll at about 30 people.

The train derailed just before midnight when its brakes failedwhile travelling between the cities of Ilebo and Kananga in the central African nation.

Seven cars overturned in the accident while another leaned partly off the tracks, said Medard Ilunga, head of Congo's state railway agency.

The UN sent doctors, nurses and medical equipment to the site, said Kemal Saiki, spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping operation in the country. The UN force is assisting the nation in its transition to democracy.

Its road and rail systems were built more than 100 years ago, when the country was a Belgian colony.

With files from the Canadian Press