Two die in 24-vehicle pile-up

2010-11-03 00:00

A PILE-UP involving 24 vehicles claimed the lives of at least two people and left 11 more injured on the N3 between Camperdown and Cato Ridge just after 6 am yesterday.

The accident involved 15 bulk-carriers, six light motor vehicles, two bakkies and a minibus.

The road was closed for about seven hours and traffic was brought to a standstill over a stretch of about five kilometres.

Poor visibility due to mist is believed to have led to the accidents on both lanes.

It seems that on the southbound lane traffic had come to a halt because of a collision between a truck and a light motor vehicle. It is not clear how the collision happened.

Truck driver Cue Magagula, who was driving to Durban, said he had stopped at the scene when another truck came speeding up and rear-ended him.

He managed to swerve on to the side of the road and the speeding truck ploughed into a motor vehicle and then into another truck.

“The truck had crossed over to the southbound lane and hit the car. The impact of the truck from behind me led to total chaos as other vehicles tried to avoid impact and the truck hit another truck,” said Magagula.

As the traffic came to a standstill on the southbound lane, a collision just under the Camperdown Bridge brought traffic on the northbound lane to a standstill as well. This also led to more rear-endings, leading to the injuries and to the closure of the freeway in both directions.

ER24 reported that the victims suffered possible back injuries and lacerations and were taken to hospitals in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.

The severity of the accident was revealed as the mist lifted. Trucks could be seen in the centre of the highway on both lanes and damaged cars littered the highway.

KwaZulu-Natal traffic information officer Zinhle Mngomezulu said the accidents were all rear-enders.

“Traffic congestion is terrible on this stretch of road during peak hours. As much as there was thick mist we also suspect that speeding was also a factor leading to the accident,” said Mngomezulu.

Traffic heading north was diverted on to the R103 near Cato Ridge while traffic to the south was diverted to the R603 to the South Coast Interchange.

Motorist and Camperdown resident Cobie Grobler said the mist might have played a role in the accident, but another factor was the removal of speed cameras between Camperdown, Cato Ridge and Hammersdale a few weeks ago.

“You should see how these trucks speed on this road. They even overtake light motor vehicles because these guys seem to know that there are no more speed cameras in the area,” said Grobler.

An officer from the police accident response unit said the surveillance camera near the Camperdown Bridge couldn’t pick the accident up due to the thick mist.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and the Durban Port container terminal said the accident had no impact on their operations.

Acsa spokesperson Collin Naidoo said they had no flight delays and that if there were people who were stuck on the N3 they would have communicated with the airport.

The matter is under investigation.

VARIOUS bulk carries with containers and other numerous cargoes were trapped in the accident scene as the road had to be closed for hours. The SPCA rescued 35 calves in the accident which were headed for Empangeni.

Inspector Rob Deare from the Pietermaritzburg SPCA managed to extricate the truck with the calves from the chaotic traffic.

They were fed and watered at the SPCA and will be transported to their destination today.

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