14 DIE on the SPOT in KZN Fatal Accident “She was … I mean she is … I don’t know if she is alive,” Lungi Ntuli wept on the bridge overlooking crumpled wreckage and 14 scattered bodies last night.
Her 40-year-old sister, Virginia Ntuli, had not returned from work and was “most likely” to have been in the taxi that was transporting mostly workers from the luxury Zimbali estate to their homes on the North Coast.
According to the province’s transport department spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, the minibus taxi left the Shaka’s Head bridge near Ballito and veered down an embankment before crashing into an oncoming train.
“Initial reports indicate that the driver of the minibus taxi lost control, hit the rail guard and landed on the railway line, resulting in a crash with a train.
“Fourteen people were confirmed dead on the scene, while five were left critically injured – one of whom has since passed away in Stanger hospital. The other four remain critical in hospital.”
Ncalane said the taxi driver was one of the dead.
Paul Herbst of IPSS Medical Services, one of the first paramedics on the scene, said: “We were confronted by chaos. There were bodies scattered on the railway track.”
KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Services paramedics said it was one of the worst cases they had ever attended to and described it as “absolutely tragic and sad”.
Those who suspected that their family members were in the taxi rushed to the scene, but little information was available as bodies remained in the crumpled minibus.
South African Police Service search-and-rescue crew took over the scene and were still trying to retrieve bodies from the wreckage at 8pm. They expected the operation to last several hours.
The jaws of life were used.
“This is a familiar sight. The exact thing happened last year,” Deolyn Doorsamy said.
Watching the bodies being removed from the wreckage with more than 200 other bystanders, Doorsamy said he had watched bodies being removed from a taxi that had met the same fate in a crash last year.
Lungi Ntuli and her sisters tried to comfort their mother at the scene.
“We must be positive. My sister will come home. She will. I won’t believe that she is dead in that taxi.”