The small Free State road next to the railway line is lined with police vehicles‚ ambulances and fire trucks‚ a police cordon separating stranded passengers from the burnt out and mangled wreckage of eight train carriages piled over the tracks.

A small child is taken from one of at least six buses brought in to transport passengers to an ambulance - apparently a victim of heatstroke.

Four hours after the Shosholoza Meyl smashed into a truck at a low level crossing near Hennenman‚ accident investigators are hard at work sifting through the debris‚ trying to determine the cause of the crash.

So far‚ according to Free State health department officials‚ at least 20 people have been declared dead. The number may rise, however‚ amid conflicting reports about the death toll from the scene.

Free State health department spokesman Mondli Mvambi confirmed that at least 20 bodies had been recovered.