July 14, 2005

South Africa commuter trains collide, injure 162

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Two South African commuter trains
collided at a station in Soweto outside Johannesburg, injuring
162 people, officials said on Thursday.

Metrorail spokeswoman Thandi Mlangeni said the collision
occurred on Wednesday evening at Soweto's Merafe station, where
one train had apparently stalled at the platform during a local
power outage.

"A second train collided with the stationary one ... we had
162 people injured and we transferred them to hospital, four
with serious injuries," Mlangeni said.

She said the cause of the accident was under investigation.
"There was a power failure but we cannot say that was the cause
at this point."

South Africa's main train driver union said the crash
showed the country's dilapidated and underfunded commuter
trains were endangering the lives of staff and passengers.

"Most of these trains are 30 years old and very few have
been refurbished," said Louis Brockett, deputy general
secretary of United Transport and Allied Trade Union.

Commuter rail forms a major transport link between
Johannesburg and the suburbs of Soweto, townships which were
set up under white rule to house black laborers away from the
city center.