Trains Collide in Egypt, Killing at Least 32
CAIRO — Two trains collided in southern Egypt on Friday, killing at least 32 folks and injuring 90 in the most recent catastrophe to strike a railway system that has lengthy been suffering from accidents, poor upkeep and mismanagement.
It was not instantly clear whether or not the authorities suspected sabotage or an accident. However the Egyptian Nationwide Railways Authority mentioned somebody had activated the emergency brakes in some automobiles on one prepare and one other prepare coming from behind crashed into it, inflicting two passenger automobiles to overturn.
Tens of ambulances rushed to the scene close to the town of Sohag on the Nile, about six hours’ drive south of Cairo. A video shot by a passenger and posted on-line confirmed a frantic scene inside one of many automobiles, the place folks seemed to be trapped.
“Save us,” one of many passengers is heard screaming. “We will’t get the folks out.”
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt promised in a put up on his official Twitter page to penalize these accountable. “The ache in our hearts at present will solely improve our resolve to finish such disasters,” he mentioned.
The collision got here as Egypt was dealing elsewhere with a significant disaster on the Suez Canal, the place a cargo ship that ran aground has halted visitors for days on one of many world’s essential transport routes.
Egypt’s creaking railways have a horrible security file, with lethal crashes, fires and collisions at sign crossings a frequent incidence. In 2002, the nation’s worst rail catastrophe claimed greater than 300 lives when a hearth erupted on a rushing prepare touring to Cairo from southern Egypt.
Not less than 20 folks have been killed and dozens have been injured in 2019 when a prepare crashed right into a platform at Cairo’s essential rail station, setting off a hearth. A 12 months earlier, a passenger prepare and a cargo prepare collided in the Nile Delta north of Cairo, killing at least 12 folks.
In 2017, two trains crashed close to the port metropolis of Alexandria, killing at least 37 folks and injuring greater than 100.
The federal government statistics company reported 10,965 railroad accidents between 2008 and 2017. The 1,793 railway accidents reported in 2017 was the very best variety of accidents the nation had seen for at least 15 years.
Whereas investigations and inquiries are sometimes ordered up after crashes, little has been performed to resolve the longstanding issues. After one crash in 2018, Mr. Sisi mentioned the federal government lacked the roughly $14 billion wanted to overtake the run-down rail system.
Egyptian officers downplayed the broader significance of Friday’s collision.
“The final deadly accident occurred some time in the past so this isn’t essentially an indication of negligence or a recurring downside,” mentioned Reda Abou Harga, a former deputy head of security and former spokesman for the Egyptian Nationwide Railways authority.
However Mr. Abou Harga, who retired shortly after the 2017 crash, acknowledged that the prepare system was in want of an overhaul.
“The state is endeavor a complete railway improvement plan,” he mentioned. “They realize it’s an absolute necessity and are lastly placing cash into it.”
A few of that cash comes from the World Financial institution, which authorised a $440 million mortgage to Egypt this month aimed at modernizing the signaling system, upgrading observe work alongside tons of of miles and bettering security and high quality.
Based on the World Financial institution, nonetheless, the challenge is an extension of an earlier one which concluded final 12 months and failed to realize a lot of its targets. As an alternative of slashing the typical variety of fatalities from railway accidents by half over the past decade, for instance, that quantity greater than doubled.
At a information convention, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly reiterated the federal government’s plan to develop the railway system, saying that billions had been spent however that progress had been modest.
“There are tens of hundreds of journeys and hundreds of thousands of passengers shifting every day,” he mentioned. “We’re creating the power however it should take time and one problem is that these accidents may occur.”
Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.
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