16 people killed in multiple-vehicle pile-up on N3 in KZN

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  • Sixteen people were killed in a pre-dawn crash on the N3 in Pietermaritzburg.
  • According to official reports, 10 vehicles were involved in the "horrific" crash after the driver of a truck lost control of the vehicle.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport said the road was closed to traffic as forensic teams were on the scene to start their investigations.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport said 16 people died in a multi-vehicle collision on the N3 between Peter Brown Drive and the Chatterton Road offramp in Pietermaritzburg in the early hours on Saturday.

According to reports, 10 vehicles were involved in the "horrific" crash after the driver of a truck lost control of the vehicle.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said the incident occurred on Saturday at about 02:00 while an Interlink truck was travelling on the N3 in Town Hill. It said the wheels on the right side of the truck came off, which resulted in the vehicle overturning onto the centre embankment.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the KwaZulu-Natal response to intervention (RTI) was in place to provide an advanced warning.

READ | 3 family members dead, 8 people injured after car hit truck in Durban

"A minibus then came down the hill approaching this obstruction when another Interlink crashed into the back of the minibus, pushed the minibus into the RTI vehicle, and then into the Interlink that was lying on its right side," Zwane said.

"All other vehicles then crashed into the rear of these vehicles. A full mechanical investigation will be conducted to look at the vehicles and whether there were any failures that contributed to the crash," he added.

KwaZulu-Natal transport department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said a traffic patrol vehicle was also hit by the truck.

"The traffic officer managed to survive. All the 16 fatalities are believed to be from a minibus taxi. We are currently trying to establish where the taxi was coming from and where it was going to," Ncalane added.

READ | Four dead and eight injured in horrific car crash on N2

He said there were indications that the taxi was en route from Johannesburg to Harding in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ncalane said:

A 7-year-old boy was rescued by a traffic officer when one of the vehicles caught fire. At this stage, it is still very difficult to verify some of the details of the accident as some vehicles caught fire, and there is still a lot of work currently being done on the scene.

The road is still closed to traffic as forensic teams are on the scene to start their investigations.

"We are appealing to people to be patient when driving along that area. The KZN MEC for transport has also dispatched a team of senior officials to the scene of the accident to establish exactly what happened," said Ncalane.

The department said its officials were "devastated" by the accident.

"We haven't had such a horrendous accident in the province for a very long time. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to those families affected by the crash," said Ncalane.

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