Egypt revises train crash death toll to 19 | Middle East News
Egypt has started burying the dead from a train collision that has killed at least 19 people and injured 185, according to a revised toll, as investigators investigate the country’s latest fatal train crash.
Health Minister Hala Zayed told reporters on Saturday that an initial death toll of 32 in Friday’s accident was revised downwards, while the number of injured fell from 165.
Surveillance camera footage from the crash seen by AFP showed a high-speed train sinking into another as it rolled slowly down the tracks, sending a cart hurtling through the air in a cloud of snow. dust.
Most of the injured in Friday’s crash in Tahta district, southern Sohag province, suffered fractures.
The first victims were laid to rest on Saturday morning in the presence of small groups of family members and friends.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has vowed severe punishment for those responsible for the crash, the latest in a series of train accidents that have hit Egypt.
It came as the most populous Arab nation grapples with another major transportation challenge – a Giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal, a vital shipping route for international trade.
Early on Saturday, Egypt was struck by tragedy again when a collapsed building in the capital, Cairo, killing at least five people and injuring 24 others, officials said.
At the scene of the rail disaster, technicians worked until Friday evening to remove five dislocated and damaged cars. In the morning, the accident area was cleared of bent metal and debris and rail traffic resumed.
Witnesses and survivors recounted horrific scenes.
“We were at the mosque then a child came and told us [about the incident]. We heard the collision, so we rushed in and found the carnage, ”a 59-year-old man told AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The first ambulances to arrive at the scene arrived “about half an hour” after the crash, he said.
“There were children who kidnapped [debris] using wooden ladders, ”added the witness, who spent the day helping rescuers.
One train traveled between the southern city of Luxor and Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, and the other between the southern city of Aswan and Cairo.
Kamel Nagi, a 20-year-old conscript, was on the train to Cairo after taking a few days off.
“Our train suddenly stopped and a quarter of an hour later the second came and hit us,” said Nagi, who suffered multiple fractures.
“I saw it coming, I screamed, then I found myself on the ground in great pain,” he said from the hospital.
‘Accidents can happen’
Authorities opened an investigation to determine the circumstances of the accident, while rail authorities blamed the accident on unidentified passengers who “activated the emergency brakes” on a train.
The prosecution said it would question several railway employees, including the two train drivers, their assistants and the flagman. They will also have to undergo drug tests and their cell phones have been seized by authorities to examine their call logs, he added.
But media reported on Saturday that the two train drivers died from injuries sustained in the crash.
The rail authority said one train struck the last car of the other, causing at least two cars to overturn between Maragha and Tahta stations.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said the government would pay 100,000 Egyptian pounds (about $ 6,400) to each family that has lost a loved one and between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds to the injured.
The government has spent “hundreds of billions of pounds” to modernize the rail system over the past four years, he said, acknowledging that the network “has suffered from decades of neglect.”
Egypt’s rail network is one of the oldest in Africa and the Middle East and its improvement “will take time,” Madbouli told reporters on Friday after visiting the crash site.
“By then, accidents like this can happen,” he said, adding that efforts to upgrade the system have been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic which has delayed agreements with companies. foreigners.
On Friday, el-Sisi vowed to punish those responsible for the deadly wreckage.
“Anyone who caused this painful accident through negligence or corruption, or something similar, must receive dissuasive sanction without exception or delay,” the president said on Twitter.
Middle East analyst Yehia Ghanem told Al Jazeera earlier that punishing low-level employees, as has happened in the past, does not solve structural problems with the country’s decaying rail system. .
“There is a serious problem with basic services to the Egyptian people, including the railways. These types of accidents sometimes happen on a weekly basis. The responsibility lies with the system, with the regime, with the president himself, ”Ghanem told Al Jazeera.
One of Egypt’s deadliest train crashes occurred in 2002, when 373 people died in a fire that ravaged a crowded train south of Cairo.