South Africa train blaze after fatal collision

A passenger train has caught fire in South Africa after colliding with a truck, killing at least 18 people and injuring 268, rescue workers say.

Some of the bodies are “burnt beyond recognition”, Free State Health Department spokesman Mondli Mvambi told South African news site Times Live.

Video footage showed a fire blazing through at least one carriage, near a crushed car and an overturned truck.

Evacuated passengers were seen standing on the roadside with luggage.

The collision occurred near Kroonstad city in Free State province, after the truck failed to stop at a crossing, a passenger told local media.

Around 700 people were on the train when it was hit by a truck, a BBC correspondent has reported.

‘They didn’t make it’

The driver of the truck tried to flee, but was arrested by police, passenger Seipati Moletsane told the privately owned eCNA news site.

Passengers in the first two coaches were wounded, she added.

“I was so traumatised. I didn’t know what to do. I was looking for a door just to jump out. Every door was locked… All of a sudden, we just saw smoke, smoke, smoke,” Ms Moletsane said.

The emergency services rushed to the scene and battled the blaze on the train, which had been travelling from the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to the commercial capital, Johannesburg.

Officials fear the number of dead could rise, reports the BBC’s Lebo Diseko from Johannesburg.

Mthuthuzeli Swartz told the BBC that emergency teams were trying to lift the train to see if there was anyone else trapped underneath the wreckage.

map

Passenger Tiaan Esterhuizen told the BBC that he and his family managed to get off the train, and he then tried to help three women trapped in the mangled wreckage.

“They were shouting to us: ‘Listen, the baby, the baby!’ We tried to look for the baby but we couldn’t find it.

“We broke down the windows to look [for] it. And then… that same truck that they were in… was full of flames. So, they didn’t make it.”

Scene of crash
Some passengers managed to escape: t@ER24EMS

The flames became intense, forcing him and others to retreat, he said.

“We used some fire extinguishers the police had‚ but it didn’t work‚” Mr Esterhuizen was quoted in local media as saying.

  

Latest posts

Hotel Rwanda hero convicted on terror charges

Claire Wanja

Boost to Covid-19 fight as more Chinese vaccines supplies stream into Africa

Eric Biegon

Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies aged 84

Muraya Kamunde

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More