Train crash families to receive remains

The aftermath of the Kroonstad train crash earlier this month..

THE relatives of train passengers who died in the Shosholoza Meyl train accident between Kroonstad and Hennenman in the Free State about three weeks ago, will finally receive the remains of their loved ones.

This after the forensic pathologists are set to complete the DNA tests today. Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Sipho Sithole said their team will be heading to Kroonstad tomorrow to hand over the results to the respective families. Sithole told the regional radio station that they were almost complete with their DNA test process.

“Forensic pathologists have taken time to go through each body bag to process the bodies and we will be in Kroonstad to hand over the results,” he said. Sithole last week said there might be one or two bodies not accounted for. The death toll presently stands at 21. However, 22 families have come forward to say they were missing family members.

“We received enquiries from 22 families and now as things stands we have 21 bodies discovered meaning that there may be one or two extra in one body bag that have not been accounted for,” he said.

It has been widely reported that the bodies of another two children were discovered at the Kroonstad mortuary last weekend. Sithole said forensic pathologists took time to go through each body bag to process the bodies and that was when it was discovered that there may have been one or two extra in one body bag and as result the death toll might rise to 22. The delay was a result of the state of some of the bodies of the victims.

Some bodies are burnt beyond recognition. The limbs were separated. Prasa said they remained committed to ensuring that every missing family member was accounted for and the process of identifying the bodies was undertaken through DNA identification. This accident comes after a truck allegedly crossed a level-crossing without stopping between Hennenman and Kroonstad, causing the deadly collision.

According to Prasa the train was travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg with 713 passengers on board. A total of 164 people were injured in the process and were taken to various hospitals across the province. Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi has since instructed the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) to establish a board of inquiry to determine the cause of the fire that broke out following the deadly collision. The driver of the truck was found to be sober when driving the truck and was released by police after being questioned.