South Africa train crashes into farm truck, killing 19

Emergency responders at the scene

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A train has hit a truck carrying farm workers at a railway crossing in South Africa, killing at least 19 people, officials say.

The crash took place in the north-eastern province of Mpumalanga.

Officials say the exact number of dead is difficult to determine as bodies are strewn all over the track.

Some 50 workers were said to be on the truck and the private ambulance company Netcare 911 said that 24 people had been taken to hospital.

Map

"It would appear as if the truck driver may have crossed the railway line without having a proper look-out and as a result the train hit him and then pulled him for a kilometre to two kilometres," Thulani Sibuyi, head of Mpumalanga's community safety department, told the AFP news agency.

He feared the death toll could be as high as 30.

"The bodies are lying all over the scene, people torn apart," he said.

The train was carrying coal for export to Mozambique, Michael Asefovitz, a spokesman for Transnet - the country's main transporter of freight, told Reuters news agency.

According to the News24 website, the farm workers were fruit-pickers being taken to work.

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