MEMBERS of the Swakopmund emergency services worked late into Tuesday night to recover the body of the 32-year-old Wilhelm Nongameni Joseph that was still trapped in one of the locomotives that derailed.
The Namibian Police in the Erongo Region confirmed that the deceased person was positively identified after the locomotive was lifted back onto the tracks.
Heavy cranes were dispatched from Walvis Bay to assist with the recovery of the deceased person’s body and to clear up the chaotic scene where a goods train derailed shortly after 13:00 on Tuesday afternoon.
According to one of the emergency workers, the grim task to recover the body of the deceased person started late on Tuesday afternoon.
“The locomotive weighs approximately 100 tonnes and we had to wait for the crane to arrive from Walvis Bay before we could do anything. There are very few cranes in Namibia that are able to lift locomotives that have gone off the rails,” said one emergency worker.
By daybreak on Wednesday morning, emergency workers and engineers were using the heavy crane to place some of the railway cars that could still be salvaged back on the tracks in the station and shunting area of TransNamib.
“The task of recovering salvageable railway cars and the other locomotives was made more difficult because it was suspected that more people might have been crushed by the derailed railway cars,” the emergency worker added.
The salvaged railway cars and locomotives will be taken by rail in different train to Walvis Bay where repair work will be performed.
The shipping containers that could be salvaged were also removed from the scene.
Eyewitnesses to the chaotic derailment stated that the train was moving way too fast when it entered the station area of Swakopmund.
The train with three locomotives toppled over when it reached a curve, resulting in railway cars piling up into a heap of scrap within seconds.
Two other TransNamib employees sustained serious injuries and were transported to a Swakopmund hospital for emergency medical treatment.
It is believed that a mechanical failure resulted in the train running down the slope unable to apply its brakes.