, PRETORIA, Jan 31 – Two passenger trains packed with school kids and rush-hour commuters collided near the South Africa capital Pretoria on Thursday, injuring up to 300 people, medics said.
The accident took place before 8:00 am (0600 GMT) when a commuter train heading from the suburbs to the capital ploughed into a stationary train on the same track.
Medical workers said up to 300 people had been treated for various degrees of injury.
“We do have 20 seriously injured,” said Johan Pieterse of Tshwane Emergency Services.
“Both of the trains were full of commuters and between them were lots of school children on the way to school,” said Pieterse.
“We counted about 50 plus children,” he added.
At least three people were said to be in a “critical” condition according to Chris Botha, a spokesman for emergency services provider Netcare.
“The people who were critically injured suffered multiple injuries to the body,” said Botha.
At least one person was airlifted to the nearby Milpark Hospital, others were taken by ambulance and many were treated at the scene.
Rescue workers struggled to cut away the tangled wreckage of the trains to free the passengers.
One of the train drivers was freed from the carriage where he was trapped for two hours.
“He’s critical at this stage,” said Pieterse.