DNA tests match 19 of 21 Kroonstad train crash bodies to family members

The passenger rail agency met with the families of the victims in the free state on Friday and says it is in the process of releasing the remains for burial.

Clean-up operations at the scene of a train crash in Kroonstad in the Free State on 6 January 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Passenger Rail Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says it has positively identified 19 of the 21 Kroonstad train accident victims following a series of DNA tests.

The crash happened earlier this month and left 200 people injured.

The passenger rail agency met with the families of the victims in the Free State on Friday and says it is in the process of releasing the remains for burial.

The agency's Sipho Sithole says the meeting with the families was emotional and warranted the presence of paramedics.

“The meeting was quite a sad one. The families, even before they could get the DNA results, were facing the reality that we were coming to tell them the final status and some of them were collapsing.”

He says while the DNA identification process was difficult, 19 bodies were successfully matched with DNA samples taken from their closest family members.

“Of the 21 bodies, no family was able to identify from the remains so we had to conduct DNA tests, of which 19 were successfully matched with family members.”

Sithole says forensic pathologists will continue working on identifying the remaining two.