A freight train loaded with stowaways collided with three locomotives, killing 57 people and injuring 54 others, the official Ethiopia News Agency reported Thursday.

The agency said the freight train was pulling into Miesso station, about 230 miles east of Addis Ababa on the main line to Dire Dawa, when it smashed into the locomotives at about 10 p.m. Wednesday.Railway official Firie-Hiwot Asrat said the freight train was supposed to have had only five people on board when it set out Tuesday on the 320-mile trip to Dire Dawa, the largest city in eastern Ethiopia.

The large number of dead and injured were apparently people who boarded the train illegally without the knowledge of the railway, he said.

The agency reported that citizens and officials in Miesso recovered the bodies of 57 victims and brought another 54 people to a hospital for treatment. Among the injured were the driver and assistant driver of the freight train.

It was the worst rail accident in Ethiopia since a passenger train derailed and plunged into a gorge in January 1986, killing 450 people. That train was traveling from Dire Dawa to Addis Ababa.