Jumat, 26 Maret 2021

Egypt train crash leaves at least 32 dead and 160 injured -

A collision between two trains has killed at least 32 passengers and left more than 160 injured in southern Egypt.

The country is plagued by fatal rail accidents, widely blamed on crumbling infrastructure and poor maintenance.

The health ministry said dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene in the Tahta district of Sohag province, around 460km south of Cairo.

It gave an updated casualty toll of at least 32 dead and 165 people hospitalised with injuries, 70 per cent of them fractures.

Surveillance camera footage of the accident seen by AFP showed a carriage being violently thrown into the air in a cloud of dust when a speeding train rammed into another as it rolled slowly down the tracks.

Springs and twisted metal jutted out from the wreckage, as dozens of people gathered around the overturned carriages.

Harrowing images from inside one of the carriages posted on Facebook showed men and women screaming for help as they tried to free themselves from the wreckage.

“People are dying. Where are the authorities? Help us,” one young man shouted repeatedly.

A video showed another man covered in dust trapped by twisted metal under what could have been the aisle of the carriage.

In other footage, a man is heard urging a middle-aged woman who appears stuck between seats to move forward.

She struggles and is heard saying: “Please, my son, help me.”

As authorities launched an investigation, Egypt’s rail authority said the crash came after unidentified passengers had “activated emergency brakes in several carriages” on one of the trains.

A statement said one train hit the last carriage of the other, causing at least two carriages to overturn between the stations of Maragha and Tahta.

Egypt’s horrific history of train crashes

One of the trains was travelling between the southern city of Luxor and Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, while the other was on the way between Cairo and the southern city of Aswan.

Health Minister Hala Zayed travelled to Sohag to check on the injured, as authorities opened an investigation.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged tough punishment for those responsible for the crash, which came as his government wrestles with another major transport challenge, a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal and causing huge traffic jams at either end.

President Sisi, who ordered the payment of compensation to victims and their families, vowed “deterrent punishment” for anyone found responsible for the tragedy.

“Anyone who caused this painful accident through negligence or corruption, or anything similar, must receive a deterrent punishment without exception or delay,” he tweeted.

Egypt has been plagued with deadly train accidents in recent years.

One of the deadliest was in 2002 when 373 people died as a fire ripped through a crowded train south of Cairo, and there have been many fatal crashes since.

In March last year, at least 13 people were injured when two passenger trains collided in Cairo, triggering a brief suspension of rail services nationwide.

At the time, rail managers blamed the crash on signals malfunctioning in bad weather.

And in February 2019, a train derailed and caught fire at Cairo’s main railway station, killing at least 22 people and injuring 41, and prompting the transport minister, Hisham Arafat, to resign.

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2021-03-26 21:07:08Z

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