KROONSTAD: South African police launched a manslaughter investigation Friday following a train crash that killed at least 18 people and injured 254 others in one of the country’s worst ever rail disasters.
The passenger train, travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, smashed into a lorry at a level crossing near Kroonstad in central Free State province on Thursday and then burst into flames.
The lorry driver, who the country’s transport minister Joe Maswanganyi accused of “taking chances… that cost lots of lives”, will be central to the probe.
“There is a case of culpable homicide open to be investigated and thereafter it is for the director of public prosecutions to determine who must be prosecuted,” Free State police spokesman Brigadier Motantsi Makhele told AFP.
“It’s just a case open for further investigation.”
In South African law, “culpable homicide” is the equivalent of manslaughter.
Makhele added that nobody was in police custody nor has anyone been charged in connection with the crash. The process of identifying bodies was ongoing, he said.
Mthuthuzeli Swartz, the acting chief executive of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s rail division.
About 500 people on the summit were trapped for several hours
Officials warned the toll could rise as operations continued to clear the crash site
Luxor governor Mahmoud Badr confirmed the accident
Police said the death toll for that stretch of road has now reached 100 this month alone