At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds injured after a train hit a lorry and a car on a level crossing in between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the country's Free State at about 9.15am local time (11.15am GMT) on Thursday, in South Africa.
Video footage shows a scene shrouded in smoke‚ the wrecked train looming in the background‚ as passengers help each other move away from the heat of the flames. The train was carrying 429 passengers and 268 were injured, some critically. A "human error" caused the accident, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, acting CEO of the state-owned passenger rail agency, said. The truck towing two trailers was halfway across the level crossing when it was hit by the train and dragged for 400 meters.
The train was reportedly full of people going back to Johannesburg from holiday in Port Elizabeth. "We took the train because we thought it would be safer than being on the roads," ironically a passenger said to media after accident. Many uninjured passengers were in shock. Investigation into the crash continues. Police vehicles‚ ambulances and fire trucks were at the scene. A police cordon separated stranded passengers from the burnt out and mangled wreckage of eight train carriages piled over the tracks. Passengers in three carriages have burnt beyond recognition. Food and water was arranged for the passengers who would be transported by bus to their destination.