CAIRO — Two trains collided in southern Egypt on Friday, killing at the very least 32 individuals and injuring 90 within the newest catastrophe to strike a railway system that has lengthy been affected by 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 stated somebody had activated the emergency brakes in some vehicles on one prepare and one other prepare coming from behind crashed into it, inflicting two passenger vehicles 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 vehicles, the place individuals seemed to be trapped.
“Save us,” one of many passengers is heard screaming. “We will’t get the individuals out.”
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt promised in a publish on his official Twitter page to penalize these accountable. “The ache in our hearts right now will solely improve our resolve to finish such disasters,” he stated.
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 site visitors for days on one of many world’s important delivery routes.
Egypt’s creaking railways have a horrible security file, with lethal crashes, fires and collisions at sign crossings a frequent prevalence. 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.
No less than 20 individuals have been killed and dozens have been injured in 2019 when a prepare crashed right into a platform at Cairo’s important rail station, setting off a hearth. A yr earlier, a passenger prepare and a cargo prepare collided within the Nile Delta north of Cairo, killing at the very least 12 individuals.
In 2017, two trains crashed close to the port metropolis of Alexandria, killing at the very least 37 individuals and injuring greater than 150.
The federal government statistics company reported 10,965 railroad accidents between 2008 and 2017. The 1,793 railway accidents reported in 2017 was the best variety of accidents the nation had seen for at the very least 15 years.
Whereas investigations and inquiries are sometimes ordered up after crashes, little has been finished to resolve the longstanding issues. After one crash in 2018, Mr. Sisi stated the federal government lacked the roughly $14 billion wanted to overtake the run-down rail system.
“The final deadly accident occurred some time in the past so this isn’t essentially an indication of negligence or a recurring drawback,” stated 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 stated. “They comprehend 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 toward modernizing the signaling system, upgrading observe work alongside a whole bunch of miles and bettering security and high quality.
Based on the World Financial institution, nonetheless, the venture is an extension of an earlier one which concluded final yr and failed to realize lots of its targets. As an alternative of slashing the common variety of fatalities from railway accidents by half during the last 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 1000’s of journeys and hundreds of thousands of passengers shifting every day,” he stated. “We’re creating the power however it is going to take time and one problem is that these accidents might occur.”
Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.