Two killed as luxury train derails

TWO women died when a Rovos Rail train derailed in Pretoria yesterday.

TWO women died when a Rovos Rail train derailed in Pretoria yesterday.

One of the women was pregnant and went into labour. Her baby did not survive either.

Both women worked for the luxury train which was on its way from Cape Town to Pretoria.

The 55 passengers and 30 staff aboard have been accounted for, Rovos Rail owner Vos Rohen said.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said five passengers were critically injured and 44 were slightly injured.

One of the critically injured was airlifted to the Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria. Others were taken to various hospitals.

Transnet spokesperson Nothemba Gnani said the train derailed when an electro-locomotive uncoupled from the coaches.

"The steam locomotive was supposed to take over when the accident occurred, that's what we know at the moment."

Firefighters, police and sniffer dogs remained on the scene late yesterday.

The train, which fell on its side across the railway tracks, closed the line between Centurion and Pretoria. Metrorail put on buses for commuters left stranded at Pretoria station.

Initial estimates were that it could take three days or more to clear the scene.

Metrorail spokesperson Nana Zenane said officials were clearing debris from the tracks and assessing the situation.

Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele has sent his condolences to the families of those killed in the accident.

"We want to assure South Africans and our visitors that this accident does not have any impact on the integrated transport plan that the department is in the process of operationalising ahead of the World Cup, or the country's ability and readiness to host the tournament." - Sapa