CAIRO >> Two trains collided today in southern Egypt, apparently after someone activated the emergency brakes, killing at least 32 people and leaving 108 injured, Egyptian authorities said.
Two passenger cars flipped on their side from the force of the collision, the latest in a series of deadly accidents along Egypt’s troubled rail system, plagued by poor maintenance and management.
Video from the scene taken shortly after the collision showed derailed cars turned into twisted piles of metal, with some passengers trapped inside. Some victims seemed unconscious and others could be seen bleeding. Bystanders carried bodies and laid them out on the ground near the site.
Dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene in the southern province of Sohag, Egypt’s health ministry said. The wounded were transferred to four nearby hospitals. Their injuries included bone fractures, cut wounds and abrasions, the statement said.
The ministry said a plane carrying medical supplies and physicians covering different specializations flew from Cairo to Sohag, 270 miles to the south.
Egypt’s Railway Authorities said the accident happened when someone activated the emergency brakes of a passenger train that was headed to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
The train stopped abruptly and was struck from behind by another train, the statement said. The collision caused two cars from the first train to flip over.
Egypt’s railway system has a history of badly maintained equipment and poor management. Official figures show that 1,793 train accidents took place in 2017 across the country.
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 disasters,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly’s office said he and five of his cabinet members would travel to the scene.
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 lacks about 250 billion Egyptian pounds, or $14.1 billion, to overhaul the run-down rail system. El-Sissi spoke a day after a passenger train collided with a cargo train, killing at least 12 people, including a child.
A year earlier, two passenger trains collided just outside the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43 people. In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo.
Egypt’s deadliest train crash took place in 2002, when over 300 people were killed when fire erupted in speeding train traveling from Cairo to southern Egypt.