• Short Summary

    ??? about 18km north of Polgtetersrus shortly after 2 am. dragging three crowded coaches down?

  • Description

    Rail line with capsized coaches.

    Sign "Messina" destination of train pan to wrecked coach.

    Railway engineers with blow torch.

    General scenes bridge.

    wreckage etc.

    Workmen on opposite wall of bridge.

    Engineers trolley.

    Bulldozing wreckage. cutaways.


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: ??? about 18km north of Polgtetersrus shortly after 2 am. dragging three crowded coaches down into a dry river bed and throwing four others and a diesel locomotive on to their sides.

    Names of the victims are due to be released later today.

    The ???cemithe appeared to have been carried across the ???hlge by its ??? momentum after it had been derailed demolishing the steel and con crete structure as it went.

    After the accident it lay on its side with four coaches be side the track. In the riv???rbed lay the shattered remains of three more coaches.

    Screams from the dying and injured, crushed in coaches rammed against the bridge's
    That is how passengers today described yesterday's train disaster at Potgietersrus.

    Mr Simon Arapasha said in the Potgietersrus Hospital today that he was wakened by the rumbling noise and the light given off by sparks.

    The sparks were probably caused by the metal coaches sliding down the remnants of a bridge that had given way.

    Mr Ale Nodu, of Johannesburg, was in the sixth coach. it went down six metros and two others fell on it.

    He said: "I was awake about 2 ??? when there was a deafening roar and the rain started shaking. The next moment we were falling and it seemed as if we would never stop."
    "When we came to rest water started seeping in to what was left of the floor. Almost immediately two other coaches came crashing down on us and I heard many people scream and moan."
    Patients said today that the first people to arrive on the scene were two White men who had been travelling along ???mbankment, filled the darkness
    Most of the dead were in the ??? coach, which took the full ??? a the seventh and eight topped together over the bridge.

    Voluntary rescue workers reached the scene soon after. wards and toiled under makeshift heights to release passengers pinioned by the wreckage.

    Some were trapped for eight hours. Three women were removed from the broken fragments of the sixth coach only at noon.

    Every available ambulance from surrounding towns was alerted, and the victims were ferried to hospitals at Potgietersrus, Petersburg and Nyistroom.

    By this morning more than 90 of the injured had been discharged, but 61 were still in the Petersburg hospital, and 19 at Potgietersrus.

    Rails loose
    Senior railway police and technical men were at the scene early yesterday, and Bailway Headquarters later confirmed that sabotage was suspected.

    Police said the rails the approach to the bridge had been loosened.

    A departmental inquiry, headed by the railways' assistant general manager of operations, Mr G. J. Coetzee, has already started.

    It is hoped that the line will be cleared and back in operation by tomorrow.

    The African passengers were on their way to the Easter festival of the Zion Christian Church in Morea City, about 30km north of Pietersburg.

    Those who escaped serious injury, though shocked and bewildered, were taken by railway bus to points beyond the accident, where they again entrained.

    The massive road lift was still underway late last night. Hundreds more pilgrims were at Potcietersrus station waiting to be taken around the obstructions.

    The Minister of Transport. Mr Schocman and the Railways General Manager. Mr. J. G. H. Louber. said they had learnt of the disaster with the deepest regret.

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