Train crash leaves 3 dead, 620 injured in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – At least three people were killed and 620 others injured when two passenger trains collided during the morning commute in South Africa on Tuesday, media reported.

According to Xinhua news agency, the two trains belong to Metrorail – an operator of commuter rail services in the major urban areas of South Africa – which is a division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), a state-owned enterprise responsible for most passenger services in South Africa.

Both trains were travelling on the same line towards Pretoria from Mabopane when they collided at Mountain View station in Pretoria, Metrorail spokesman Lillian Mofokeng said. The trains were reportedly ferrying about 800 people.

When visiting the site of the crash, Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande expressed sadness and outrage over the incident, and that the PRASA management had to account for that in the first place.

In a related development, he blamed security companies of taking hundreds of millions of rands from Metrorail, yet it made no big difference.

“How come we are spending so much money on security yet we continue having cable theft?,” he asked reporters.

Nzimande said cable theft resulted in the malfunctioning of the signal system and forced train operations to be switched to manual authorisation that led to miscommunication.

“Like today, clearly there must have been a miscommunication somewhere,” he noted, demanding answers from PRASA as well as the country’s Railway Safety Regulator within a few days as to what action should be taken to deal with lax security.

Metrorail spokesman Lillian Mofokeng said the cause of the crash would be determined upon completion of investigations.

Train accidents have been a common occurrence in South Africa.

In October, two Metrorail trains collided in Gauteng Province, leaving scores of people injured. In September, two trains collided south of Johannesburg, injuring more than 100 people.