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11.41 4 Jan 2018


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Updated 20.55

At least 18 people are believed to have been killed and more than 250 injured after a train hit a lorry in South Africa.

The passenger train crashed into the lorry and a car in between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the country's Free State at about 9.15am local time (11.15am GMT) on Thursday.

Four people were initially confirmed dead, but a few hours after emergency crews arrived they announced 14 had been killed. Later reports put the total at 18.

Russel Meirin, spokesman for emergency medical care organisation ER24, said:"Provincial fire and medical services were the first to arrive on the scene, finding that several carriages were lying on the side."

"A fire had broken out in one of the carriages and had begun to spread."

The train, owned by long-distance rail service Shosholoza Meyl, was reportedly full of people going back to Johannesburg from holiday in Port Elizabeth.

Train passenger Tiaan Esterhuizen said the train was "blowing its horn for a long time" before the crash.

"We were in the restaurant section of the train eating breakfast when we felt a jerk and soon after the train came to a standstill.

"Some of the people told me afterward they heard the train blowing its horn for a long time before the accident happened.

"We took the train because we thought it would be safer than being on the roads."

Overturned train carriages billowing smoke could be seen in the fields next to the track.

Victims were treated at the scene and others were taken to hospital.

Uninjured passengers looked to be in shock as they walked away from the wreckage with their luggage.


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