Eighteen people were killed and more than 250 injured Thursday when a train collided with a truck in South Africa, officials said.
The train was traveling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg when the collision occurred, causing a fire to break out in one of the carriages and then spread to others, said Russel Meiring, a spokesman for ER 24, one of the country’s private medical emergency services.
Mthura Swartz of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) said 18 people were confirmed dead and 254 were injured. The train had capacity for 780 passengers and there were 758 on board. Most of the deaths were the result of the fire that spread through the rain, Swartz said.
The death toll was expected to rise as rescuers put out small fires that continued to burn in some of the carriages, he said. Emergency services are still working on freeing people from overturned carriages.
Meiring earlier said about 100 people were injured, some of them seriously.
The train was between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the Free State province when the collision occurred, Meiring said.
Provincial fire and medical services who were the first to arrive on scene found several carriages lying on their side, he said. Paramedics evacuated the train and assessed passengers’ injuries while firefighters battled the blaze.
The injured are being transported to nearby hospitals for urgent treatment, Meiring said.
Swartz said six carriages overturned when the driver of the truck went through a stop sign. The truck driver survived the collision with no injuries, Swartz addedd.
The crash happened on a single line, PRASA said, causing the cancellation of many trains that were scheduled to use that line.