South Africa: The Wreck of the 5:28

Day was ending as the eleven jam-packed coaches of the 5:28 from Durban clattered toward suburban Effingham Junction Station. The cars carried 1,200 blacks returning from their jobs in the city to crowded Kwa Mashu, the native "location" ten miles away. Suddenly, reported an observer, "as I looked along the track, I saw the electric unit at the tail end topple over." With it came the train's last passenger compartment, bouncing like a toy over the jagged fill of the roadbed.

In the 90 sickening seconds before the train ground to a stop,...

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