CAIRO – Two trains collided in southern Egypt on Friday, killing at least 32 people and injuring 90 in the latest disaster on a rail system that has long been plagued by accidents, poor maintenance and mismanagement.
Egypt’s National Rail Authority said that “unknown actors” had activated the brakes on one of the trains involved near the Nile city of Sohag and another train coming from behind collided with it, causing two to roll over. passenger cars. A video filmed by a passenger and posted online showed a frantic scene inside one of the cars, where people appeared to be trapped.
“Save us,” one of the passengers is heard shouting. “We can’t get people out.”
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised in a post in his official Twitter page punish those responsible.
“The pain that breaks our hearts will only increase our determination to end such disasters,” he said.
The collision came as Egypt was dealing with a separate crisis in the Suez Canal, where a freighter that ran aground has stopped traffic for days on one of the world’s major shipping lanes.
Egypt’s creaking railways have a terrible safety record, with fatal crashes, fires and collisions at signal crossings occurring frequently. In 2002, the country’s worst rail disaster claimed more than 300 lives when a fire broke out on a speeding train to Cairo from southern Egypt.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in 2019 when a train crashed into a platform at Cairo’s main train station, causing a fire. A year earlier, a passenger train and a freight train collided in the Nile delta north of Cairo, killing at least 12 people.
In 2017, two trains crashed near the port city of Alexandria, killing at least 37 people and injuring more than 100.
The government statistics agency reported 10,965 rail accidents between 2008 and 2017. The 1,793 rail accidents reported in 2017 was the highest number of accidents the country had seen in at least 15 years.
While investigations and inquiries are often ordered after accidents, little has been done to resolve long-standing issues. After an accident in 2018, Sisi said the government lacked the roughly $ 14 billion needed to reform the dilapidated rail system.
Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.