Kroonstad train crash: Search and Rescue operations halted

Bloemfontein – Search and rescue operations for passengers involved in a deadly train, truck and car collision near Kroonstad on Thursday morning have been suspended until heavy-duty machinery arrives from Mafikeng, the Free State health department said. 

Departmental spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said all the passengers who survived the accident have been removed from the scene. 

"The availability of the extra heavy-duty machinery can only help to recover the dead who might be trapped in the carriages," Mvambi told News24. 

While Mvambi said that 14 people died and 180 people were injured in the accident, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) CEO Nathi Khena said 18 fatalities have been counted.

Speaking to eNCA, Khena said one of the saddest parts of the accident was the fact that people died as a result of being trapped inside carraiges that burnt out.

"It means is that they couldn't escape the train that had derailed and, as a result, they [were] then [burnt] to death and this is very tragic," Khena said. 

"We (Prasa) would never forget this incident and we are going to do all in our power to make sure that justice is done for our commuters."

Also read: Truck driver 'was taking chances' in Kroonstad crash - transport minister

Khena said the heavy-duty machinery was set to arrive within 36 hours to restore the railway line's service to normal. 

On Thursday afternoon, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said the truck driver, who collided with the train, "was taking chances".

"He thought he was going to pass through," Maswanganyi said at a briefing held at the accident scene, which was broadcast by eNCA.

"Little did he know that the train was going to hit him, [which] has cost many lives." 

Maswanganyi, who was attending the funeral of a former Free State department of transport head in the area,  said the identities of the deceased would be released later.

"We also want to [send] a message of condolence to the families of the deceased. We can't, for now, confirm as to who those passengers [are]."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 131 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 1868 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 272 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.