Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 11:39 UK

South Africa probe into luxury Rovos Rail train crash


Rohan Vos, Rovos Railways: "We had a lot of Americans on the train"

Brake failure is being investigated as the possible cause of a luxury train crash in South Africa which killed four people, a safety official says.

The train derailed near the capital, Pretoria, on Wednesday with 55 tourists on board and 30 members of staff.

The victims were all female employees, one of whom was four months pregnant and went into labour at the scene, losing her baby.

According to train owners Rovos Rail, seven people remain in hospital.

Rovos Rail's Rohan Vos said one person is in a critical condition, the South African Press Association reports.

It's absolute carnage
Chris Botha
Emergency worker

There were about 40 US tourists, along with French, German and British citizens, on board the Pride of Africa when it derailed.

Mr Vos told Associated Press news agency that the passengers had been relatively safe in wood-panelled carriages - some dating back to the 1920s - but the staff had been in a kitchen area that was less protected.

Emergency worker Chris Botha at the scene said the railway coaches were lying on top of each other.

"It's absolute carnage," he told AFP news agency.

Rail Safety Regulator spokesman Carvel Webb said a full report into the causes of the accident would take two weeks.

"It appears from the initial measurement and assessment that were done that there was not adequate braking left on the train during the coupling and uncoupling process," AFP quotes him telling South Africa's Radio 702.

Rovos Rail offers "unique train safaris" and some of its coaches have hot showers and air conditioning.

The two-day Cape Town-Pretoria trip can cost from about $1,500 (£974) to nearly $3,000 per passenger, AP reports.

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