Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sub-Saharan Africa: 12 Foreign Tourists Severely Injured, One Killed When Zimbabwe Train, Tram Crash

According to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), one of the twelve foreign tourists who were injured on Tuesday (July 1) after a tram they were traveling in collided with a goods train in the resort town of Victoria Falls has tragically died.

The ZBC reported that two of the injured passengers who sustained head injuries were flown to South Africa for medical treatment.

The collision occurred near the Victoria Falls Hotel at approximately 1700 hours when the goods train, which was coming from Hwange, rammed into the tram.

ZRP national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the injured tourists were from the US, Australia and the Netherlands. 

COMMENT: I continue to remind our readers that travel in the developing world is not without its risks, which is why taking all modes of transportation at face-value can impact on one's safety.

Residents who spoke to SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said the goods train suddenly changed lanes, onto the path of the tram, leading to the collision.

The tram was hit just after pulling off towards Jafuta Lodge, where the tourists intended to have their dinner. Their guide, an employee of Victoria Falls Steam Train Company, jumped off to safety leaving the 30 tourists on the tram.

The open-sided trams are used to transport tourists to the town's star attractions such as the Victoria Falls Bridge and the Rainforest.

Saungweme said a signal error was the most likely explanation for the accident.

"But even if this is the case it is unlikely that this is a problem the troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will be sorting out once and for all as it is linked to the theft of copper which is used in the signals system."

Senior government officials have been implicated in the nationwide vandalism of signals equipment for copper, which is then sold to firms in China.

This report will be updated once the cause of the collision has been established.