South Africa: 640 Hurt in Soweto Train Smash Horror

ANDILE NDLOVU More than 600 people were injured, two critically, when a packed passenger train collided with another train in Soweto late yesterday afternoon. Ambulances from across Gauteng rushed to take the injured to hospitals.

The collision was between a moving train and a stationary one, between Mzimhlophe and Phomolong stations, at about 5.30pm. ''We had a total of two men who were critically injured and airlifted to Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital, and 642 with minor and serious injuries," Netcare 911 spokesman Jeff Wicks told Sapa on the scene.

''We had people who were sprayed 200 metres around the trains ... on arrival, paramedics found passengers from both trains lying on the track," he said. Johannesburg emergency services spokesman Synock Matobako said about 150 of the injured were transported to various hospitals across Gauteng.

Stephina Ndlazi, a Protea Glen resident, had difficulty in sitting up and complained of pain in her right shoulder. "I took the train at Driehoek," Ndlazi told The Times at the scene. "It was really full and people around me kept complaining that [the driver] was going too fast. We were terrified. The next thing, we hit something and people were shouting."

Wicks said the cause of the crash was not known. Another commuter, Ethel Nzama, of Naledi, said the train driver "was going too fast". "I was standing and holding onto a rail. The next thing we hit the other train and there were people falling all over me as I tried to hold onto the rail." 

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