Train crash victims identified

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

TWO families of victims of the Shosholoza Meyl train crash earlier this month in the Free State are yet to have their relatives identified.

The relatives of the passengers who died in the tragic Shosholoza Meyl train accident between Kroonstad and Hennenman in the Free State earlier this month have finally received DNA test results.

The results were released in an emotional gathering held at the Ebenhezer Community Outreach Centre in Virginia last Friday.

According to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Sipho Sithole, 19 of the 21 bodies had been positively identified by forensic pathologists in Kroonstad.

He said two of the bodies still needed to be tested and the process is already underway.

The bodies of the deceased are still at the Kroonstad morgue.

Forensic pathologists completed the DNA tests last week. Prasa has carried the medical costs of the injured and has also announced that it will pay for the burial costs of the deceased.

Sithole said they were in consultation with the families regarding the burial processes. Some of the families who were distraught were assisted by social workers and paramedics on site.

Sithole said forensic pathologists took time to go through each body bag to process the bodies and that is when it was discovered that there may have been one or two extra in one body bag the death toll might rise to 22.

Sithole last week said there might be one or two bodies that had not been accounted for leading to only 19 bodies positively identified so far. The death toll presently stands at 21.

However, one additional family have come forward to say they are missing their family member. It is reported that the bodies of another two children were discovered at the Kroonstad morgue last weekend.

Free State department of health said the delay of DNA results as a result of the state of some of the bodies of the victims. Some bodies were 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.

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. It is not clear when the funerals of the deceased will be held.

-michaelt@thenewage.co.za

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