A passenger train caught fire in South Africa after hitting a truck, killing at least 18 people and injuring 268. Footage from social media shows a fire blazing through at least one carriage, near a crushed car and a toppled truck. The accident occurred near the city of Kroonstad in Free State province, after the truck failed to stop at a crossing, a passenger told media outlets. The train was carrying 429 people on board.
The driver of the truck tried to flee, but was arrested by police. According to reports, passengers on the first two coaches were wounded.
The train had been travelling from the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, the commercial capital in South Africa. Emergency services were rushed to the spot and doused the fire on the train. Rescue workers are also trying to lift up the train to check if there is anyone else trapped underneath the wreckage.
Transport minister, Joe Maswanganyi, said: “Police are investigating. The truck driver has been taken to hospital where we are going to do a blood test to verify if he was sober or not or what was the problem.”
The Shosholoza Meyl rail company, which operates long-distance trains in South Africa, said in a statement that the truck made an “untimely” crossing on the tracks when it was hit by the train at high speed.
A few of the injured passengers were treated close to the site of the wreck, while others were taken to a hospital. The New Year happens to be a busy period as far as transportation is concerned in South Africa, with the railways and roads ferrying passengers returning to work after the holidays.