More than 162 people were injured in a train collision in Soweto near Johannesburg Thursday. The accident occurred just after 7:00 pm, when a full commuter train carrying about 1,000 passengers plowed into the rear of a stationary train at Merafe station in Soweto.
Rail officials say a power failure shortly before the incident had plunged the rail station into darkness and prevented the stationary train from moving off.
Emergency workers said the incoming train had already slowed down to enter the station, and that as a result fewer people were injured than might have been the case if the train was traveling at speed. In addition, they said, only two of the injuries sustained was serious enough to require hospitalization.
The injured were evacuated, power restored, and the rail line reopened within two hours.
Each day in the three-hour period up to 8:00 p.m., 58 commuter trains, each carrying about 1,000 passengers, pass through Merafe station.
The accident has highlighted an ongoing problem of power failures which has plagued Johannesburg the past five years, particularly during peak demand periods in the winter months
City managers say the problem is the result of an aging infrastructure combined with a fast growing city. Two years ago they embarked on a $100 million upgrade program expected to be completed before 2010.
Earlier, city councilor Brain Hlongwa said Johannesburg's infrastructure is so worn and so inadequate that it must be rebuilt from scratch.