Small stream turns into deadly torrent, cuts 10-metre donga across dark road

2012-12-12 00:00

FOURTEEN people, including a year-old baby, died when four vehicles crashed into a flooded stream from a washed-away road near Ermelo in Mpumalanga on Monday night.

Among the vehicles that landed in the flooded river was a full taxi en route to Ermelo in heavy rain at about 10.30 pm.

The river is normally a narrow stream that runs under the road through a drain pipe into a nearby farm dam. However, a severe thunderstorm had turned the stream into a raging torrent which simply pushed out the pipe and then washed out a five-metre donga underneath the road, causing the tar to subside.

Police spokesperson Captain Carla Prinsloo said the four vehicles all fell into the hole in quick succession, tumbling 10 metres into the rushing water below.

The taxi driver and front-seat passenger died when the taxi hit the side of the trench. The bodies of two boys, aged nine and 11 were later found trapped in the wreckage, while the other passengers were thrown out and swept away by the floodwater.

The driver of a Nissan bakkie and his female passenger were also killed when they landed in the stream behind the taxi.

Another body was found during the night and seven bodies were recovered from the dam by divers yesterday.

The occupants of a BMW and a Colt bakkie suffered minor injuries when their vehicles were also swept away, but they managed to swim to safety.

Another eight people were taken to hospital, of whom five had been discharged yesterday.

The dam wall burst during the night from the pressure of water.

The road between Ermelo and Lothair has been closed.

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