At least 18 dead and hundreds injured in South Africa train crash

Officials said the truck driver allegedly tried to cross the tracks just ahead of the oncoming train, part of which burst into flames after the collision, trapping some passengers in carriages Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 05, 2018, 12.56 AM (IST)

A passenger train in South Africa caught fire after colliding with a truck, leaving at least 18 dead and around 268 injured on Thursday. 

The train, which was carrying 700 passengers, derailed from its track after crashing into the truck and burst into flames. 

The collision occurred near Kroonstad city in Free State province and also damaged power lines. 

The emergency services rushed to the scene and battled the blaze on the train, which had been travelling from the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to the commercial capital, Johannesburg.

Officials said the truck driver allegedly tried to cross the tracks just ahead of the oncoming train, part of which burst into flames after the collision, trapping some passengers in carriages.

“I have been briefed that the accident was the result of a truck that was driving through a level crossing... You can see for yourself the truck driver was taking chances,” Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said the train said on the news channel of national broadcaster SABC.

According to media reports, some bodies were severely burnt and could not be recognized. 

The driver of the truck escaped but was later arrested by the police, reports said. 

South Africa has the continent’s largest railway network, but it has been plagued by mismanagement and under-investment that has seen train use dwindle despite it being the cheapest from of public transportation.