Two trains crashed on Friday in southern Egypt, the latest in a series of deadly accidents on the country’s troubled railways.
Egyptian authorities reported on Saturday that at least 19 people had been killed in the crash and 185 injured, revising initial counts of the dead and injured offered on the day of the accident.
Someone apparently activated the emergency brakes on the passenger train and it was rear-ended by another train, causing two cars to derail and flip on their side, Egypt’s railway authorities said. The passenger train was headed to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, north of Cairo, the statement said.
Video showed twisted piles of metal and passengers covered with dust trapped inside — some bleeding and others unconscious. Bystanders removed the dead and laid them on the ground nearby.
One passenger was heard shouting on the video, “Help us! People are dying!” A female passenger appeared to be upside down, squeezed under the seats, and was crying, “Get me out, boy!”
WATCH | Dozens killed after 2 trains crash in Egypt:
More than 100 ambulances were sent to the scene in the province of Sohag, about 440 kilometres south of Cairo, Health Minister Hala Zayed said, and the injured were taken to four hospitals. Injuries included broken bones, cuts and bruises.
Two planes carrying a total of 52 doctors, mostly surgeons, were sent to Sohag, she told a news conference in the province, accompanied by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly.
Rail system has history of mismanagement
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he was monitoring the situation and that those responsible would receive “a deterrent punishment.”
“The pain that tears our hearts today cannot but make us more determined to end this type of disaster,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Egypt’s rail system has a history of badly maintained equipment and mismanagement, and official figures said there were 1,793 train accidents in 2017.
In 2018, a passenger train derailed near the southern city of Aswan, injuring at least six people and prompting authorities to fire the chief of the country’s railways. The same year, el-Sissi said the government needed about 250 billion Egyptian pounds ($20 billion) to overhaul the rail system. Those remarks came a day after a passenger train collided with a cargo train, killing at least 12 people.
A year earlier, two passenger trains collided just outside Alexandria, killing 43. In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo.
Egypt’s deadliest train crash was in 2002, when more than 300 people were killed after fire broke out in a train travelling from Cairo to southern Egypt.