Driver ignored rail signal

The horror accident in which a train ploughed into a truck carrying farmworkers on a rail crossing near Somerset West early yesterday might have been the result of the truck driver ignoring warning signals, said the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).

The horror accident in which a train ploughed into a truck carrying farmworkers on a rail crossing near Somerset West early yesterday might have been the result of the truck driver ignoring warning signals, said the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).

Nineteen people were killed and 12 were injured in the accident.

The RSR said: "Preliminary investigations suggest that the immediate cause of the accident was that the driver ignored warning signals and proceeded to cross the level crossing, resulting in the collision."

The regulator said it had sent inspectors to the scene to work with Metrorail investigators.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe has called for a speedy investigation of the accident.

The Transport Department said: "The minister is being briefed on the developments of the investigation as it unfolds and the ministry will issue a detailed statement as more information becomes available."

In a statement earlier yesterday, rail company Metrorail said the level crossing where the accident happened "conforms to legal requirements in terms of statutory warning signage and is protected by stop boards, road warning signs and train whistle boards".

It said witnesses to the accident reported that the truck had "stalled at the crossing".

Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille said the city extended its condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

She said: "We encourage the police to conduct a thorough investigation in order to establish the exact reason for the truck's presence on the crossing with a train approaching."

In a separate statement, Western Cape agriculture MEC Cobus Dowry said he had instructed the province's Agriculture Department "to help in every possible way to support the people who are affected through this tragedy".

Department officials visited the scene of the accident. - Sapa

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