4 January 2018

Hennenman–Kroonstad train crash: A passenger train operated by Shosholoza Meyl collides with a truck on a level crossing at Geneva Station between Hennenman and Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa. Twenty people are killed and 260 injured.

Hennenman–Kroonstad train crash
Photograph of the type of locomotive hauling the train
A Sheltam locomotive similar to that involved in the crash.
Hennenman–Kroonstad train crash is located in South Africa
Hennenman–Kroonstad train crash
Location of the collision in South Africa
Date4 January 2018
09:15 local time (07:15 UTC)
LocationNear Kroonstad, South Africa
Coordinates27°49′19″S 27°8′4″E / 27.82194°S 27.13444°E / -27.82194; 27.13444Coordinates: 27°49′19″S 27°8′4″E / 27.82194°S 27.13444°E / -27.82194; 27.13444
LinePort Elizabeth - Johannesburg
OperatorShosholoza Meyl
Incident typeLevel crossing collision
CauseUnder investigation

On 4 January 2018, a passenger train operated by Shosholoza Meyl collided with a truck on a level crossing at Geneva Station between Hennenman and Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa. The train was derailed and seven of the 12 carriages caught fire. 21 people were killed and 254 people were injured.


At about 09:15 local time (07:15 UTC) on 4 January 2018,[1] a passenger train, operated by Shosholoza Meyl, carrying 429 passengers, was travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg when it collided with a truck on the Geneva Station level crossing, around 200 kilometres (120 mi) south-west of Johannesburg.[2][3][4][3][5][6]

Witnesses stated that the truck failed to stop at the level crossing,[7][8] despite the train driver giving warning by blowing the horn. The truck, along with its two trailers, was dragged for around 400 metres (1,300 ft),[1] and a car being transported on the train[9] was also crushed by the derailed train.

The locomotive hauling the train was diesel-electric locomotive № 3018, owned by Sheltam.[10] The locomotive and 12 carriages of the train were derailed;[2] seven carriages caught fire.[11] Overhead electrical wires had snapped during the collision, causing the fire.[12]:9 The first responders were local farmers and farm workers who rushed to the collision site with fire-fighting equipment and began pulling people out of the burning carriages.[12]:9 Eyewitness and farmer Willie du Preez, said that the fire began ten minutes after the collision, with the first flames behind the locomotive which spread towards the derailed carriages and trapped passengers.[13]:2 21 people were killed[14][15] and 254 were injured.[2] At around 20:50 local time, the search and rescue was called off.[16]

The truck driver survived the collision and tried to flee the scene but was arrested[8] and taken to a hospital.[3] Police have opened a manslaughter case against the driver.[17] The driver of the truck tested negative for alcohol at a police station.[18]:1

Recovery operation

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sam Makhele said he believed all human remains had been recovered from the carriages by the afternoon of 5 January, and that forensic workers believed they had recovered the remains of 19 people.[19]:3 Heavy recovery equipment was brought in by PRASA Rail, two days after the collision, to remove the debris from the crash site so that the railway line could be repaired and reopened.[19]:3 On 7 January, the train line was reopened to traffic.[20]


Farmer Willie du Preez said that the road to the level crossing follows the railway line before making a 90 degree turn to the crossing.[19]:3 He claimed that there is a blind spot which prevents one, for a moment, from seeing on-coming trains as well as potholes in the road that slow vehicles speeds at the crossing.[19]:3 He stated his belief that the truck's cab and first trailer had crossed and the train struck the second trailer.[19]:3

As of 6 January 2018, PRASA had not responded to a question from the Volksblad as to whether the train was speeding, as one passenger claimed he had joined the train when it was two hours late, but that the train had regained an hour at the time of the collision.[19]:3


South Africa's Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi announced that an investigation would be launched. Maswanganyi also said that "Police are investigating. The truck driver was taking chances... that cost lots of lives."[1][3] The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) is responsible for investigating railway accidents in South Africa.[21] The owner of the articulated tipper truck, Cordene Trading, expressed the firm's condolences to the victims and their families through the company's lawyer.[12]:9

The driver described, when seeing the truck on the crossing, how he tooted the trains horn and applied the brakes with a realisation he and his assistant could do nothing as they were trapped in the cabin.[18]:1 The driver and his female assistant were both badly bruised and suffered neck and head injuries.[18]:1

In a preliminary finding, the RSR's investigation of the train's speed indicates that it was travelling at 78 km/h when it struck the truck on a 90 km/h track.[18]:1 Only four of the passengers killed in the collision are recognisable but still remain unidentified.[22]:2 Two of the victim's gender cannot be identified at this time while the other victims are four girls, eight men and five women.[20]:2 The other 15 will be identified by means of DNA testing, with the results to be made known by 19 February.[22]:2

On 26 January 2018, PRASA announced that the DNA testing of the remains were completed and the results would be made known to the relatives of the victims at a gathering at the Virginia Council Chambers, Free State.[23]:8 PRASA would also be providing government assistance for burials.[23]:8

Final report

The South African Railway Safety Regulator convened a Board of Inquiry to investigate the collision and released a report in October 2018.[24]:109 The Board concluded that the cause of the crash was the failure of the truck driver to stop as required by the signage.[24]:109 The crash occurred at 08h58 with the train travelling at 78 km/hr at the time of the crash, hitting the second and last trailer of the truck with data indicating the train was not breaking prior to the collision and dragged the trailer 140 metres.[24]:109

The truck driver had not stopped as obliged, ignoring the advanced warning signs and a stop sign and was not compromised by poor visibility.[24]:109 On seeing the truck, the train driver had sounded his whistle 400 metres from the impact area but the truck continued to advance across the crossing.[24]:9,110 The locomotive and ten of 19 coaches derailed.[24]:10 After a few minutes the fires started on five coaches.[24]:10 The fire was caused by the arcing of snapped 3 kV DC electrical cables which failed to switch off or trip after the crash with the heat igniting the exterior and interiors of each coach individually with the fire not spreading to each one.[24]:110–11 The train crash killed 24 passengers with 240 injuries.[24]:6[24]:46 There was said to be 547 people on-board and the train's capacity was 640 people.[24]:89

The locomotive and coaches of the train were deemed to be roadworthy.[24]:110 Poor window and door design compromised escape from the coaches, with the windows too narrow to escape and the doors too heavy to open and no emergency exits.[24]:110 The vinyl seats and exterior of the train were not entirely fire resistant.[24]:110–11 There were inadequate number of fire extinguishers.[24]:13 The crew had not received safety training for these types of events and passengers received no emergency information prior to travel.[24]:111 The same level crossing was a scene of a train and truck collision in 26 September 2014.[24]:16

See also


  1. ^ a b c Culbertson, Alix. "14 dead and up to 100 injured in South Africa train crash". Sky News. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Mazuba, Ernest; Cowan, Kyle. "At least 20 dead in horror train crash‚ number expected to rise". Times Live. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Frantic search for survivors after South African passenger train collides with truck, killing at least 18 and injuring hundreds". Agence France-Presse. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2018 – via The Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Railway Safety Regulator to release preliminary train crash findings on Monday". Business Day. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Au moins 14 morts dans un accident de train". L'essential (in French). 4 January 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  6. ^ "14 dead, hundreds injured as train derails in South Africa (PHOTOS)". RT. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Sanco slams 'shocking' loss of life in Free State train crash". Letaba Herald. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b "South Africa train crash: Four dead in truck collision". BBC News Online. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  9. ^ "3 children, pregnant woman among those recovering after Kroonstad train crash". News24. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  10. ^ Nagesh, Ashitha (4 January 2018). "At least 12 dead after train crashes into lorry in South Africa". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Mop-up operations to resume after deadly Kroonstad train crash". eNews Channel Africa. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Cowan, Kyle (7 January 2018). "Screams of the dying haunt rescuers". Sunday Times (South Africa).
  13. ^ van der Walt, Alet (6 January 2018). "Getraumatiseerde werkerskno na treinramp nie slaap". Volksblad (South Africa).
  14. ^ Chabalala, Jeanette (19 January 2018). "Kroonstad crash death toll rises to 21 after burnt bodies of 2 children found in mom's arms during autopsy".
  15. ^ "Train and truck collision death-toll now at 19 #TrainCrash". Cape Times. 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Kroonstad train crash: Search and Rescue operations halted". News24. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Police open a manslaughter case against driver". Stuff (Fairfax). 6 January 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d du Toit, Elsje; Sonnekus, Simon; Bruwer, Ruan (10 January 2018). "'Net God se genade' - drywer". Volksblad (South Africa).
  19. ^ a b c d e f van der Walt, Alet (6 January 2018). "Boer sê oor blinde kol en vol gate by spooroorgang". Volksblad (South Africa).
  20. ^ a b Bruwer, Ruan (8 January 2018). "Treinramp: Moeilike taak begin vandag om 19 te identifiseer". Volksblad (South Africa).
  21. ^ "Occurrence Investigation". Railway Safety Regulator. Archived from the original on 5 January 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  22. ^ a b Bruwer, Ruan (13 January 2018). "Geen treinslagoffers nog uitgeken". Volksblad (South Africa).
  23. ^ a b "Train crash: test results out". The Citizen (South Africa). ANA. 27 January 2018.CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Geneva Station Level Crossing Collision Board of Inquiry Report" (PDF). Railway Safety Regulator. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2019.

4 January 46 BC

Julius Caesar fights Titus Labienus during the Battle of Ruspina.

The Battle of Ruspina was fought on 4 January 46 BC in the Roman province of Africa, between the Republican forces of the Optimates and forces loyal to Julius Caesar. The Republican army was commanded by Titus Labienus, Caesar’s former supporter who had defected to the Republican side at the beginning of the civil war.

Titus Labienus commanded the Optimate force and had his 8,000 Numidian cavalry and 1,600 Gallic and Germanic cavalry deploy in unusually close and dense formations for cavalry. The deployment accomplished its goal of misleading Caesar, who believed them to be close-order infantry. Caesar therefore deployed his army in a single extended line to prevent envelopment, with his small force of 150 archers up front and the 400 cavalry on the wings. In a surprising move, Labienus then extended his cavalry on both flanks to envelop Caesar, bringing up his Numidian light infantry in the center. The Numidian light infantry and cavalry began to wear the Caesarian legionaries down with javelins and arrows. This proved very effective, as the legionaries could not retaliate. The Numidians would simply withdraw to a safe distance and continue launching projectiles. The Numidian cavalry routed Caesar’s cavalry and succeeded in surrounding his legions, who redeployed into a circle to face attacks from all sides. The Numidian light infantry bombarded the legionaries with missiles. Caesar’s legionaries threw their pila at the enemy in return, but were ineffective. The nervous Roman soldiers bunched up together, making themselves easier targets for the Numidian missiles.

Titus Labienus rode up to the front rank of Caesar’s troops, coming very near in order to taunt the enemy troops. A veteran of the Tenth Legion approached Labienus, who recognized him. The veteran threw his pilum at Labienus’s horse, killing it. “That’ll teach you Labienus, that a soldier of the Tenth is attacking you”, the veteran growled, shaming Labienus in front of his own men. Some men however began to panic. One aquilifer attempted to flee but Caesar grabbed the man, spun him around and shouted “the enemy are over there!”.

Caesar gave the order to make the battle line as long as possible and every second cohort to turn around, so the standards would be facing the Numidian cavalry in the Romans’ rear and the other cohorts the Numidian light infantry to the front. The legionaries charged and threw their pila, scattering the Optimates infantry and cavalry. They pursued their enemy for a short distance, and began to march back to camp. However Marcus Petreius and Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso appeared with 1,600 Numidian cavalry and a large number of light infantry who harassed Caesar’s legionaries as they retreated. Caesar redeployed his army for combat and launched a counterattack that drove the Optimates forces back over high ground. Petreius was wounded at this point. Completely exhausted, both armies withdrew back to their camps.

Caesar had been defeated, having failed in his mission of gathering supplies. However, his army remained intact; Caesar fortified his camp at Ruspina and equipped sailors as light infantry to serve on land. The army’s craftsmen manufactured slingshots and javelins and Caesar sent messages to bring up as much grain and other supplies as possible.

Metellus Scipio joined forces with Labienus and Petreius and they set up camp three miles from Caesar’s.

4 January 1951

Chinese and North Korean forces capture Seoul during the Korean War.

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union also gave some assistance to the North.

With Lieutenant-General Matthew Ridgway assuming the command of the U.S. Eighth Army on 26 December, the PVA and the KPA launched their Third Phase Offensive on New Year’s Eve of 1950. Utilizing night attacks in which UN Command fighting positions were encircled and then assaulted by numerically superior troops who had the element of surprise, the attacks were accompanied by loud trumpets and gongs, which fulfilled the double purpose of facilitating tactical communication and mentally disorienting the enemy. UN forces initially had no familiarity with this tactic, and as a result some soldiers panicked, abandoning their weapons and retreating to the south. The Chinese New Year’s Offensive overwhelmed UN forces, allowing the PVA and KPA to conquer Seoul for the second time on 4 January 1951.

B-26 Invaders bomb logistics depots in Wonsan, North Korea, 1951
These setbacks prompted General MacArthur to consider using nuclear weapons against the Chinese or North Korean interiors, with the intention that radioactive fallout zones would interrupt the Chinese supply chains. However, upon the arrival of the charismatic General Ridgway, the esprit de corps of the bloodied Eighth Army immediately began to revive.

UN forces retreated to Suwon in the west, Wonju in the center, and the territory north of Samcheok in the east, where the battlefront stabilized and held. The PVA had outrun its logistics capability and thus were unable to press on beyond Seoul as food, ammunition, and matériel were carried nightly, on foot and bicycle, from the border at the Yalu River to the three battle lines. In late January, upon finding that the PVA had abandoned their battle lines, General Ridgway ordered a reconnaissance-in-force, which became Operation Roundup. A full-scale X Corps advance proceeded, which fully exploited the UN Command’s air superiority, concluding with the UN reaching the Han River and recapturing Wonju.

Following the failure of ceasefire negotiations in January, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 498 on 1 February, condemning PRC as an aggressor, and called upon its forces to withdraw from Korea.

In early February, the South Korean 11th Division ran the operation to destroy the guerrillas and their sympathizer citizens in Southern Korea. During the operation, the division and police conducted the Geochang massacre and Sancheong-Hamyang massacre. In mid-February, the PVA counterattacked with the Fourth Phase Offensive and achieved initial victory at Hoengseong. But the offensive was soon blunted by the IX Corps positions at Chipyong-ni in the center. The U.S. 2nd Infantry “Warrior” Division’s 23rd Regimental Combat Team and the French Battalion fought a short but desperate battle that broke the attack’s momentum. The battle is sometimes known as the “Gettysburg of the Korean War”. 5,600 South Korean, U.S., and French troops were surrounded on all sides by 25,000 Chinese. United Nations forces had previously retreated in the face of large Communist forces instead of getting cut off, but this time they stood and fought, and won.

4 January 46 BC

Titus Labienus is defeated by Julius Caesar in the Battle of Ruspina.

The Battle of Ruspina was fought on January 4, 46 BC in the Roman province of Africa, between the Republican forces of the Optimates and forces loyal to Julius Caesar. The Republican army was commanded by Titus Labienus, Caesar’s former supporter who had defected to the Republican side at the beginning of the civil war. It was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar, his political supporters, and his legions, against the Optimates, the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey and his legions.

After a five-year-long politico-military struggle, fought in Italy, Illyria, Greece, Egypt, Africa, and Hispania, Caesar defeated the last of the Optimates in the Battle of Munda and became Dictator perpetuo of Rome. The changes to Roman government concomitant to the war mostly eliminated the political traditions of the Roman Republic and led to the Roman Empire.