Bloemfontein - The death toll in the Kroonstad train and truck crash at about 9am on the morning of January 4 has been confirmed at 19, Free State police said on Sunday.
The death toll in the accident remained a subject of speculation since its occurrence due to the condition of the bodies of the victims, Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said.
Forensic tests on the extremities retrieved in the burnt train carriages were conducted on Friday, and by end of the day it was confirmed that 19 bodies could be accounted for. These were eight men, five women, and four girls, and two more were unidentifiable.
"The postmortem will resume soon and forensic experts from Pretoria have been roped in to assist with DNA comparison that will assist in identifying the bodies. The families will be informed of the central place where they will converge for tests," Makhele said.
In the meantime, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) had established a 24-hour line - 011-544 9623 - that families could call to inquire about their loved ones who were on board the train from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg on January 4.
It is alleged that the truck driver crossed the railway line without stopping, causing the crash.
Earlier, Prasa said the long-distance passenger train was en-route to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth when it collided with the truck at a level crossing. Apart from the 19 deaths, about 164 passengers were hospitalised with only two still remaining in hospital on Friday. Busses were arranged to move 416 passengers from the scene of the accident to continue their journey.
Prasa expected to have the site cleared by Saturday and the full service activated by Monday.
African News Agency/ANA