Government 'sad' about train crash

2011-05-20 14:18
Johannesburg - Government expressed "great sadness" on Friday after more than 600 people were injured in a train crash in Soweto, Johannesburg.

"We wish commuters injured in the accident a speedy recovery and express our gratitude to the Johannesburg Emergency Services for their quick response in assisting the injured," said government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi in a statement.

"The South African government learned with great sadness about the injury of hundreds of train commuters," he said.

Some 644 people were injured in the crash on Thursday, when two trains collided in Meadowlands. Two people were critically injured.

The United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) said the accident showed that South Africa's "under-funded commuter services are becoming rail versions of Russian Roulette".

"Given the faulty equipment with which they have to function - and the long hours many are made to work - South African train drivers are doing a heroic job in saving as many lives as they do," said Utatu general secretary Chris de Vos.

"Laying the blame for train smashes on train drivers is like forcing an over-tired motorist to drive without the aid of efficient brakes or traffic lights and then blaming him when things go wrong."

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) was investigating the accident.

"A team of the RSR's inspectors were at the scene following the collision which took place at approximately 5:50pm [17:50]... An investigation into what led to the collision is underway," spokesperson Lavinia Engelbrecht said in a statement on Friday.
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents

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