JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – At least four people were killed and around 620 injured on Tuesday after two trains collided in the South African capital Pretoria, an emergency services official said.
The crash, which occurred at 9:30 a.m. (07:30 GMT), left 82 passengers with serious injuries after a packed train careered into a stationary train at Mountain View station.
“We do not rule out the possibility of additional fatalities as we search under the wreckage,” emergency official Charles Mabaso told Reuters.
An investigation into the cause of the collision was ongoing, Mabaso said.
“All the people have been removed. One person sustained critical injuries.”
Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said the two trains were both travelling on the same line towards Pretoria from Mabopane.
Mofokeng said a board of inquiry would be instituted to determine the root cause of the accident.
Trains running between Pretoria, Mabopane and Dewildt are temporarily suspended until further notice.
All commuters in possession of valid weekly and monthly tickets will be transported by bus until the line is reopened.
Metrorail said it would set up a walk-in centre at Pretoria station to assist commuters involved in the accident.
“We urge commuters to bring the relevant documents with for processing,” Mofokeng said.
Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and the Railway Safety Regulator to “urgently investigate” the cause of the crash.
Vadi said urgent measures must also be implemented to improve commuters’ safety on trains.
“We are deeply shocked by this tragic accident so early in the new year.
“We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and wish those injured a speedy recovery,” Vadi said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his condolences to the crash victims.
“Our thoughts are with those who lost their lives and their families. To the injured I would like to wish you all a speedy recovery,” Ramaphosa said.
“I would like to also encourage emergency services team on the scene to do all in their powers to help those who are still trapped under the train.”
Transport minister Blade Nzimande, Prasa and the Railway Safety Regulator will host a media briefing on Tuesday at 5pm.
This is the latest in a series of train accidents in South Africa, which has the continent’s largest railway network.
In October, 320 people were injured after a packed train traveling from Johannesburg to Pretoria crashed into the back of a stationary train.
Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Joe Brock I Reuters