Fatalities in a crash between a truck and the Shosholoza Meyl passenger train this morning at a railway crossing between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the Free State have risen to six.
Acting CEO of the rail division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), Mthura Swartz, has confirmed six fatalities and a total of 254 people who sustained injuries.
Injured passengers have been transported to various hospitals in the area, Swartz says.
The Shosholoza Meyl was on route to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth.
Swartz says investigators from PRASA, as well as police members, are on the scene where the locomotive and four carriages derailed after a truck failed to stop at a railway crossing.
The locomotive and the carriages burst into flames due to the impact of the crash. This resulted in fatalities.
According to Swartz the accident was avoidable (listen below):
He adds the investigation into the accident continues and the truck driver has been taken for tests to establish alcohol levels in his blood and the outcome of these results will be dealt with accordingly.
All necessary steps are being taken to transport passengers to their final destination. Busses are currently transporting 453 passengers to Johannesburg, he said.
OFM News’ Josca Human just reported from the scene that seven people are still trapped in the train wreck.
Meanwhile, Shosholoza Meyl Trains – South Africa, posted a press release on Facebook, stating:
The paramedics who are at the scene have confirmed that 181 passengers were injured and sadly five passengers were certified dead. There’s an ongoing search of other passengers who might be trapped in the derailed coaches.
Shosholoza Meyl Train 37012 (PE-Jhb) got derailed at Jeneva Level Crossing between Hennenman and Kroonstad.
The untimely crossing of a truck at the level crossing at around 09h00 today has resulted in the derailment of seven coaches. One of them is a power car, which helps to generate power on the train. The train (37012) was on its way from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg and had 429 passengers on board. The power car caught fire, which crossed over to the next coach. The fire brigade is on the scene.
Christal-Lize Muller/OFM News