The estimated financial cost of Tuesday’s train collision incident in Pretoria amounts to R21m, Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said.
Mofokeng was speaking at the scene, as the two remaining bodies trapped under the wreckage were removed. Three people have been confirmed dead as a result of the crash.
Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said: “I can confirm that the number of fatalities has increased from two to three, although some media reports are saying four. But we can confirm that it’s two on site. The bodies have just been recovered. One person who was seriously injured in hospital, we are told he passed on.”
Vadi said that 620 people had been injured, 11 severely and 61 moderately.
Train services between Mabopane and Pretoria would remain suspended until further notice, he added.
“The site has not been handed over by the Emergency Management Services to the railway authorities and the railway safety regulator. I suppose they want to do the forensics of the deceased,” he said.
Vadi said that, as soon as the paramedics were done with their work, they would start clearing the railway.
“There is very serious damage to the train… and I would guess that at least two to three days of work might be involved here in terms of clearing the site,” he said.
Prasa had arranged for 18 buses to transport commuters until the railway was reopened, Vadi said.
Mofokeng said the cause of the collision was still undetermined.
“These trains were both traveling on the same line towards Pretoria from Mabopane. A board of inquiry will be instituted to determine the root cause of the accident,” she said.
But Vadi suggested that cable theft may be behind the accident.
“This is a serious train crash and we do not want to speculate what might be the cause or causes, but what is quite clear from the briefing we have received from rail authorities and Prasa is that, on this particular corridor, we have had serious acts of vandalism and cable theft,” he said.
“I think the issue of theft and vandalism of railway infrastructure is a matter of serious concern.”
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande is set to visit the station on Tuesday evening and would issue a broader statement, Vadi said.