Fourteen people are believed to have been killed and hundreds injured after a train hit a lorry in South Africa.
The passenger train crashed into the lorry and a car on a level crossing in between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the country’s Free State at about 9.15am local time (11.15am GMT) on Thursday.
Four people were initially confirmed dead, but a few hours after emergency crews arrived they announced 14 had been killed.
Transport minister Joe Maswanganyi said 268 were injured, including four critically, from the train which was carrying 429passengers.
He placed the blame on the lorry driver, who survived but was in hospital.
Officials warned the toll could rise as the site was cleared.
“It is not yet confirmed but the death toll for now is sitting at 14,” said Daisy Daniel, spokeswoman for long haul passenger rail service Shosholoza Meyl.
Mr Maswanganyi said: “Police are investigating. The truck driver was taking chances… that cost lots of lives.
“The truck driver has been taken to hospital where we are going to do a blood test to verify if he was sober or not, or what was the problem.”
Mthuthuzeli Swartz, acting CEO of the state-owned passenger rail agency, said the truck towing two trailers was halfway across the level crossing when it was hit by the train and dragged for 400 metres.
“Human error” caused the accident, he said.
The train, owned by long-distance rail service Shosholoza Meyl, was reportedly full of people going back to Johannesburg from holiday in Port Elizabeth.
Train passenger Tiaan Esterhuizen said the train was “blowing its horn for a long time” before the crash.
“We were in the restaurant section of the train eating breakfast when we felt a jerk and soon after the train came to a standstill.
“Some of the people told me afterward they heard the train blowing its horn for a long time before the accident happened.
“We took the train because we thought it would be safer than being on the roads.”
Overturned train carriages billowing smoke could be seen in the fields next to the track.
Victims were treated at the scene and others were taken to hospital.
Uninjured passengers looked to be in shock as they walked away from the wreckage with their luggage.
The New Year is a busy period for transport in South Africa as people travel back to work from holidays.
An investigation into the crash continues.