DNA tests will have to be done to identify the bodies of passengers who were burnt to death when a train ploughed into a truck at a level crossing between Kroonstad and Hennenman in the Free State.

The crash has claimed the lives of at least 18 passengers.

At least 260 people were injured. Four are in a critical condition in hospital.

The Shosholoza Meyl train was travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. More than 700 passengers were on board the train.

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi visited the scene and sent a message of condolence to the families of the deceased.

The crash scene was one of carnage with wreckage scattered all over the place. It is believed that the truck driver thought that he could beat the train at the level crossing.

Survivors share their experiences.

“The accident was caused by the truck. The train driver was hooting at the truck on the railway line. But unfortunately, the back of the truck was still in the railway.”

Maswanganyi says the truck driver must account.

“The truck driver has been taken to hospital where we are also going to do blood tests to verify whether he was sober and when he is at a good stage, he will have to be questioned as to why he did what he did.”

Free State Police MEC Sam Mashinini says search operations will continue.

“It’s not a conclusive number. We still have to do thorough investigation, lift the carriages and see as to whether there are any other people trapped there or not. So, we can’t confirm. We don’t know what it’s underneath there.”

The minister commended community members and local business from Hennenman who provided survivors with food and water.

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