Eighteen dead, hundreds injured in train collision in Free State

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CAPE TOWN, January 4 – The number of deaths following a collision between a train, a truck and a light motor vehicle between Hennenman and Kroonstad in Free State on Thursday morning has risen to 18.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) acting CEO Mthuthuzeli Swartz confirmed that the death toll stood at 18 from the accident which occurred at around 9am on Thursday which he also referred to as one of the saddest incidents in the history of Metrorail.

“We want to assure that we will be taking every necessary steps to assure that the safe services that we have been rendering continue. We as Prasa will never forget this incident and we will take every necessary steps to make sure that justice is serviced.”

He added that the company had equipment that makes it possible to work overnight.

“The trucks are now on their way and will work around the clock to remove the wreckage so services can return to normal operation,” said Swartz.

South African Transport minister Joe Maswangayi, together with the MEC for Police, Roads, and Transport in the Free State, Sam Mashinini, visited the scene where the Shosholoza Meyl Train 37012 derailed at the Jeneva level crossing between Henneman and Kroonstad.

The train had been travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg when the incident occurred.

According to a statement from Maswanganyi, preliminary investigations indicate that the derailment was “caused by the truck which untimely crossed the level crossing at around 09h00 this morning”.

“Investigations indicate that the power car caught fire which crossed over to the next coach,” the minister said.

“To this extent (sic) the damages caused by the derailment have affected seven coaches, one of which is a power car which helps in the generation of power in the train.”

It is alleged that the truck driver crossed the railway line without stopping, causing the crash.

– African News Agency (ANA)