UPDATE: Three killed, 620 injured after Pretoria train crash

Two trains collided at the Mountain View Station in Pretoria, 8 January 2019. The train was reportedly carrying 800 passengers. Four people have been reported to have been killed so far and more than 600 are said to be injured. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Two trains collided at the Mountain View Station in Pretoria, 8 January 2019. The train was reportedly carrying 800 passengers. Four people have been reported to have been killed so far and more than 600 are said to be injured. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The acting Gauteng police commissioner says a charge of culpable homicide may be opened.

Two locomotives collided at around 10am on Tuesday morning in the Pretoria area of Mountain View.

The train was reportedly carrying 800 passengers. Three people have been reported to have been killed so far and more than 600 are said to be injured.

“I can confirm that there is a train collision in Mountain View and a number of commuters are injured. We have one fatality confirmed by the EMS,” Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said this morning before more reports of fatalities started coming in.

Jacaranda News reported a second fatality soon afterwards, and the official account for Emergency Rescue 24 has since confirmed a third. According to Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, the total of fatalities had since risen to four, but that was revised down to three later.

“On the scene of this morning’s train accident at the Mountain View Station. It is confirmed that 4 people have passed on, our heartfelt condolences to the families,” he tweeted.

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African News Agency reports that there are conflicting reports about the number of deaths, with acting provincial police commissioner of Gauteng Major General Max Masha stating four people had died, while Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said the death toll still stood at three.

The number of people injured has risen since this morning’s first reports. Netcare first stated that more than 200 were injured, with News24 reporting later saying over 300 people have been hospitalised, while the latest reports from TimesLive put the number of injured at 620 people.

“Approximately another two hundred patients sustained minor injuries. Circumstances leading up to the collision are at this stage unknown however rail authorities and law enforcement have control over the incident,” confirmed Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst this morning.

News24 later reported that “at least 300 people were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries”.

Mofokeng confirmed to African News Agency that more than 300 commuters were injured, with 82 suffering moderate injuries and 159 light injuries.

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At around lunchtime she confirmed that there were two or three people still trapped inside the trains.

The scene of the accident was said to be chaotic and people were advised to avoid the area.

Masha said police had opened an inquest docket to investigate the cause of the collision.

“If it’s found that there’s been negligence, a charge of culpable homicide might be opened,” Masha said.

“For now we don’t have the full details of what caused the accident,” Mofokeng said.

Both trains were from Mabopane station and heading towards Pretoria station.

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“Unfortunately one was stationary on the platform when the other one hit it at the back,” said Mofokeng.

Fifty ambulances were at the scene and three helicopters assisted with getting critically injured patients to hospitals.

Msimanga said he had always raised concerns about the infrastructure of railway lines and their outdated resources.

“I don’t want to speculate about what happened this morning because they are still investigating. But I think there’s a need now to immediately have a meeting with Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa). We cannot lose any more lives, there needs to be some kind of upgrade in terms of signalling that is in here.”

Msimanga said the he planned to meet with the families of the deceased.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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