Johannesburg – Eyes were brimming with tears as families were desperately trying to search for their loved ones from the injured passengers lying on the ground, some of them writhed and grimaced in pain; others laying motionless at the Tembisa train crush site on Monday. The haunting cries of a woman pierced the air near the railway tracks as paramedics pulled injured passengers out of the wreckage of two trains that had collided.
One person died in the crash, and 243 people were injured, witnesses said the accident happened because the two Metrorail trains were travelling on the same track in opposite directions.
A preliminary report showed that one of the drivers skipped a signal. Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said: “Metrorail train 1851 travelling from Tembisa to Kaalfontein collided head-on with train 1848 between Kaalfontein and Tembisa stations today at 12.50pm.
“The preliminary finding is that human error led to the accident.
Mofokeng said 243 people were injured, and the deceased was a young man his 20s who had been travelling from school.
As paramedics were tending to injured passengers, a woman arrived and moments later started wailing.
Emergency workers and some of her relatives tried to comfort her but she was inconsolable. She had just heard the news that her relative had died in the crash.
ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said when paramedics arrived at the scene, “numerous occupants had already begun to climb out of the train and were scattered around the scene”.
The injured passengers were taken to hospitals in Ekurhuleni.
Mofokeng said Prasa would provide counselling to affected families.
“As Metrorail, we will be giving support to family of the people affected through counselling.”
Mofokeng said the corridor between Kaalfontein and Tembisa had been shut down. “We will be running one line on Tuesday. Delays will be more than 60 minutes.
“For now we are providing bus services for commuters. Those who have their own means of transport can use those.”