Maputo — Five people were injured, one of them seriously, in a collision between a goods train and no less than seven vehicles in the southern Mozambican district of Magude on Sunday.
The accident happened on a bridge at the entrance to Magude town, reports Tuesday's issue of the daily paper “Noticias”. This bridge is both a road and a rail bridge - but it cannot carry both kinds of traffic at the same time. When a train is approaching, vehicles are warned to stay off the bridge.
According to the police, the Sunday accident was caused by the irresponsible behavior of the motorists, who disregarded the warning given by the bridge guards.
They ordered the motorists not to enter the bridge - but the motorists defied them, and the result was a collision with a goods rain coming in the opposite direction.
According to the Magude district administrator, Lazaro Bambamba, the train was travelling along the Limpopo rail line from Magude towards Maputo, while the vehicles were crossing the bridge to enter Magude town. The police and the publicly owned ports and rail company, CFM, are working at the scene to establish the details of the collision and its exact causes.
The rules for use of the bridge are that road traffic is suspended thirty minutes before any train is due to arrive, precisely in order to make collisions impossible. Security guards are stationed at either end of the bridge regulating the entry of vehicles.
Bambamba said that, of the seven vehicles involved, three were minibuses (known as “chapas”) carrying passengers.
The worst damage was done to the vehicle in the front of the line, which had a head on collision with the train. The impact pushed this vehicle into the second, and that into the third, until seven vehicles were involved in the pile-up.
The wagons carried by the train were empty, which allowed the train driver to brake rapidly and bring the train to a halt before any wagons were derailed, or any cars pushed off the bridge.