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South African train collision injures at least 52

July 8, 2014

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Two trains collided in the South African city of Durban on Tuesday evening, injuring more than 50 passengers in an accident that officials said could have been much worse.

Neither of the trains derailed and none of the passengers were trapped in the accident, said Max Magnussen, a commander at the municipal fire department.

“It was quite fortunate,” Magnussen said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

He said 52 people were injured, while Russel Meiring, a spokesman for emergency responders at the scene, put the number of injured higher at 80. Meiring described the injuries as “minor to moderate” and said some people declined to be taken to hospitals and went home instead, which could account for the discrepancy between the reported tolls.

The trains were moving at a relatively slow speed when they collided, averting a higher casualty toll, Meiring said. “If they were traveling at a great speed, it could have been a completely different story.”

Injuries included lacerations, bruises and a few bone fractures, he said. There were no reports of fatalities. An investigation of the cause of the accident is underway.

Power to the rail lines was switched off so that paramedics could work safely.

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