Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

24 killed in level crossing crash

Twenty four people have been killed when a train hit a truck at a level crossing in South Africa

A cargo train loaded with coal has collided with a truck carrying farm workers at a crossing in eastern South Africa, killing at least 24 people and leaving bodies strewn across the scene, officials said.

"The accident was messy," said government spokesman Thulani Sibuyi describing heads and limbs severed from bodies.

At least 25 people were injured in the accident in Mpumalanga, an eastern province.

Authorities were still struggling to count all the injured.

Eleven of the victims died on the spot, two on the way to hospitals and the others perished in different health facilities. The final death toll, however, might still rise.

The owner of the truck is being questioned by the police. It appears likely that he crossed the tracks and misjudged the distance to the arriving train, officials said.

Traffic accidents with high death tolls are common in South Africa, and often are blamed on negligent drivers and badly maintained roads.

In 2010, a man driving 14 children to school evaded barriers at a crossing near Cape Town and a train crashed into it, killing 10 of his young passengers. The driver was convicted of murder in the deaths of the students and attempted murder in the case of the four surviving children. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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