Five burn as truck hits two cars

FIVE people were burnt to death yesterday when an 18-wheel truck rammed into their vehicles near Pietermaritzburg.

The truck slammed into two stationary vehicles parked in the emergency lane on the N3 north bound at uMbumbulu.

Two survivors managed to escape with slight injuries.

Paramedics had their hands full for over six hours while traffic on the route had to be diverted.

The N3 Pietermaritzburg-bound carriageway had to be closed while rescue workers tried to recover the charred bodies.

The stationary vehicles were ferrying Malawian nationals who opted to park at the roads' shoulder due to dense mist.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeff Wicks said the truck collided with the two cars at about 4am.

"The truck hurtled into the vehicles and pushed them for a few metres. The impact caused all vehicles to burst into flames and five occupants were burnt beyond recognition," Wicks said.

"The force of the impact pushed the vehicles forward, one of the light motor vehicles being pushed beneath the wheels of the truck.

"The second vehicle was wedged under the front bumper of the truck."

Wicks added that one of the victims was thrown out of the car due to the impact.

"Her body was found nearby and she was declared dead by paramedics."

Injured people were rushed to hospitals for further medical care as they had sustained possible head and spinal injuries.

Provincial MEC for transport, community safety and liaison Willies Mchunu described the scene as an out of a "horror" movie.

He said that the department was helpless over the carnage on the province's roads especially when "five people died in such a ghastly manner".

"This is a fight that cannot be fought by the department of transport alone.

"It needs all motorists using the province's roads to join hands and be the ambassadors of road safety and just do it right at all times," Mchunu said.