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Transnet has suspended freight rail on its economically important railway line to Saldanha Bay due to "extreme weather conditions" in the Western and Northern Cape.
The line transports iron ore from Sishen in the Northern Cape to Saldanha's port for export.
The state-owned freight rail group said that trains had been shut down just before noon on Thursday.
"Strong wind conditions caused the top-mounted electrical gear of a locomotive to become entangled in the overhead cables. This resulted in damage to 600 metres of overhead track equipment."
Three employees had to be airlifted to safety after they became stranded in an inaccessible area.
The group said it had suffered further damage from heavy downpours, hail and high winds, which resulted in flash floods cutting off access to a 150km section of the railway reserve.
"Our staff will be working around the clock to restore the line and get customers’ cargo moving as soon as possible," it said on Saturday morning.
"The safety of Transnet employees remains paramount. All critical safety inspections will be conducted prior to full resumption in operations, to ensure that equipment and infrastructure are safe for service."