A British holidaymaker onboard a fatal train crash in South Africa believes she only escaped death because she moved carriages to get a drink shortly before the tragedy.
Frantic train staff feared the 29-year-old and her friend had been killed after the front carriage was derailed in Wednesday’s horror smash, which claimed the life of a man and injured a number of others.
The woman’s carriage was crushed in the incident, which happened on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Thankfully the pair had not long before moved into a lounge carriage at the back of the train with two other pals.
The tourist, who was on her way from Cape Town to Johannesburg, told the Mirror that a man who died was in the cabin next to hers, along with an elderly woman who was seriously injured.
(Image: Emergency Medical Service)
The Premier Class passenger train is thought to have skipped a red signal, leading to the fatal collision with a stationary goods train.
Earlier in the journey, the tourist – who did not want to be named – claimed staff told passengers that signals weren’t working – meaning they would be skipping red lights in order to reach Johannesburg.
Speaking from South Africa’s largest city, she said: “We were in the lounge cabin at the back of the train when the crash happened.
“The carriage where mine and my friend’s bunks were got the full impact.
“We felt a massive bang and the bar fell off, everything around us smashed.
“Everybody was in their own cabins at that time, the train manager first thought we were there. It’s really scary.”
(Image: Emergency Medical Service)
Luckily she and the fellow British tourists she was travelling with, all aged between 28 and 31, avoided serious injuries.
“There were a couple of bumps and bruises, but that was it,” she said.
Initially the Brit and her friends feared that robbers had targeted the train, which was carrying around 30 tourists.
She said: “We thought someone had deliberately derailed the train, it was filled with tourists and it was quite expensive.
“We went into a cabin and shut the blinds just in case someone tried to get onto the train.”
She later learned that a man had died, while his partner had been seriously injured.
“They were a nice elderly couple, I believe they were either German or Austrian, they were in the cabin next to us,” she said.
Emergency crews discovered them in the mangled carriage, but were unable to save the man’s life.
“I believe she is in a critical condition,” the holidaymaker added.
“We had to wait on the train once emergency services arrived, we were on there for around three hours before we could get off.
“We could see the carriage on its side.”
By the time the crash happened, the train was running nine hours late, having travelled incredibly slowly on the first part of the journey.
“They said they were were going to run through some red signals,” she said.
“The impression I got was that the signals weren’t working, they said they had to run them in order to get to Johannesburg.
“It had been going ridiculously slow for the whole journey.”
Following her lucky escape, she said she wanted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be aware of the accident, and to warn tourists about the worrying number of accidents on South Africa’s railways.
“My plan is to get in touch with the FCO, this has happened several times before,” she said.
In the wake of the crash, the United National Transport Union called for the Rail Safety Regulator board to be dissolved.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said there would be a “full investigation” to find the cause of the crash.