Train crash in South Africa injures more than 850

May 20th, 2011 - 2:14 pm ICT by BNO News  

JOHANNESBURG (BNO NEWS) — Hundreds of people were injured on late Thursday afternoon when two passenger trains collided in the South African city of Johannesburg, officials said on early Friday.

The accident happened at around 5.30 p.m. local time when a Metrorail passenger train struck a Soweto Business Express train which was standing still because of a fault between the Mzimhlophe and Phomolong stations in Soweto, which is part of Johannesburg.

Rescue efforts continued throughout the evening, until 10.30 p.m. local time, in what local officials described as one of the worst train accidents in recent years in South Africa, even though there were no fatalities.

“We would like to confirm that the total final number of injuries is 857 commuters,” said Tony Games, a spokesman for Metrorail. “Only three from this number have suffered serious injuries. All the injured commuters are receiving medical attention at all the hospitals.”

Andre Visser, a spokesman for the ER24 ambulance service, said two of the injured were airlifted to an area hospital. “When paramedics arrived at the scene they were astonished to see the hundreds of injured commuters lying beside the open carriages,” Visser said. “After further investigation it was found that only three commuters sustained severe injuries in the collision.”

A technical team cleared the scene of the accident by early Friday morning after the two trains involved were taken to a yard in the area. Normal train service was expected to resume later on Friday morning.

It was not immediately clear what led to the accident. “An investigation will be conducted to establish the cause of the accident and the circumstances around it,” said Acting Gauteng Provincial Manager Douglas Chauke.

Last month, a train driver was killed and at least 266 people were injured when two passenger trains collided on a rail bridge in the South African city of Pretoria. Of those injured, 24 suffered serious injuries.

And in March, 58 people were injured when a passenger train partially derailed in Germiston, a city in the East Rand of Geuteng province. The city is best known for having the country’s largest railway junction.

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