Trains collide in southern Egypt, killing at least 32

CAIRO (AP) — Two trains collided on Friday in southern Egypt, apparently after someone activated the emergency brakes, killing at least 32 people and leaving 108 injured, Egyptian authorities said.

Dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene in the southern province of Sohag, according to a statement by Egypt’s heath ministry. The wounded were transferred to four nearby hospitals. Their injuries included bone fractures, cut wounds and abrasions, the statement said.

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 collision caused two cars from the first train to flip over.

A plane carrying medical supplies and physicians covering different specializations has been dispatched from Cairo to Sohag, said the health ministry.

Local media displayed videos from the scene showing flipped cars with passengers trapped inside and surrounded by rubble. Some victims seemed unconscious, while others could be seen bleeding. Bystanders carried bodies and laid them out on the ground near the site.

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 be held accountable and 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 announced he and five of his cabinet members would travel to the scene, which is more than 440 kilometers (272) south of Cairo.

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.

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