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Train collision in northern Egypt kills at least 42, injures 133

Bodies covered with blankets are seen at the scene of a train collision just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday. (Twitter photo)
People gather at the site of a train collision in the area of Khorshid, in Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria, on Friday. (AFP)
Onlookers gather at the scene of a train collision just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday. (AP Photo/Ravy Shaker)
Onlookers gather at the scene of a train collision just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday. (Twitter photo)
Two trains are seen after they collided just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday, killing 36 people and injuring 123 in the country's deadliest rail accident in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Ravy Shaker)
Onlookers gather at the scene of a train collision just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday. (Twitter photo)

CAIRO: Two trains collided in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria on Friday killing 42 people and injuring 133 others, the health ministry said.
A witness said the trains rose into the air “forming a pyramid” as they slammed into each other just outside a suburban station in the Mediterranean port city.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ordered an inquiry into the crash, which left bodies strewn on the ground as rescue teams worked to pull the dead and injured from the wrecked carriages.
The collision at 2:15 p.m. (1215 GMT), near Khorshid station at the edge of Alexandria, derailed the engine of one train and two cars of the other, the Egyptian Railway Authority said.
A railroad switching error was the most likely cause, a security source said without giving further details.
Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said “human error” led to the collision but did not elaborate.
“In order to avoid it, we have to develop the infrastructure,” he told state television. A project was under way to improve the area’s facilities, but such plans took time and money, he said.
One resident, Hoda, was standing on her rooftop when she saw the trains plow into each other. “They rose in the air forming a pyramid when they collided,” she said. “I started to scream from the rooftops for people to grab some sheets and run.”
“The train I was riding was going very quickly,” said passenger Moumen Youssef. “I found myself on the floor. When we came out, we found four train cars crushed and a lot of people on the ground.”
Video footage from the scene showed mangled train coaches on the tracks as hundreds of onlookers and victims’ relatives gathered around on both sides of the tracks.
The dead and injured were initially placed on blankets by the sides of the tracks running through farmland on the outskirts of Alexandria.
Ambulances were standing by and riot police were deployed to keep the onlookers away from the scene of the disaster.
Assistant health minister Sharif Wadi told state television that most of the injured had been taken to hospital.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi sent his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered a probe to “hold accountable” those responsible for the disaster, his office said.
Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.
Friday’s collision was the latest in a series of deadly accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives over the years. Figures recently released by the state’s statistics agency show that 1,249 train accidents took place last year, the highest number since 2009 when the number reached 1,577.
It was the deadliest rail accident since 2006, when at least 52 people and 144 injured in a collision between two trains traveling on the same track near Cairo.
In 2012, a train rammed into a school bus south of Cairo and killed 50 people, mostly children.
There have been many other fatal crashes on the busy rail network.
In July 2008, at least 44 people died near Marsa Matruh in northwest Egypt when a runaway truck hurtled into bus, truck and several cars waiting at a level crossing, shunting the vehicles into the path of a train.
In the wake of that crash, an Egyptian court sentenced 14 railway employees to one year in prison for neglect.
The deadliest accident on Egypt’s railways dates back to 2002 when 373 people died as a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.

CAIRO: Two trains collided in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria on Friday killing 42 people and injuring 133 others, the health ministry said.
A witness said the trains rose into the air “forming a pyramid” as they slammed into each other just outside a suburban station in the Mediterranean port city.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ordered an inquiry into the crash, which left bodies strewn on the ground as rescue teams worked to pull the dead and injured from the wrecked carriages.
The collision at 2:15 p.m. (1215 GMT), near Khorshid station at the edge of Alexandria, derailed the engine of one train and two cars of the other, the Egyptian Railway Authority said.
A railroad switching error was the most likely cause, a security source said without giving further details.
Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said “human error” led to the collision but did not elaborate.
“In order to avoid it, we have to develop the infrastructure,” he told state television. A project was under way to improve the area’s facilities, but such plans took time and money, he said.
One resident, Hoda, was standing on her rooftop when she saw the trains plow into each other. “They rose in the air forming a pyramid when they collided,” she said. “I started to scream from the rooftops for people to grab some sheets and run.”
“The train I was riding was going very quickly,” said passenger Moumen Youssef. “I found myself on the floor. When we came out, we found four train cars crushed and a lot of people on the ground.”
Video footage from the scene showed mangled train coaches on the tracks as hundreds of onlookers and victims’ relatives gathered around on both sides of the tracks.
The dead and injured were initially placed on blankets by the sides of the tracks running through farmland on the outskirts of Alexandria.
Ambulances were standing by and riot police were deployed to keep the onlookers away from the scene of the disaster.
Assistant health minister Sharif Wadi told state television that most of the injured had been taken to hospital.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi sent his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered a probe to “hold accountable” those responsible for the disaster, his office said.
Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.
Friday’s collision was the latest in a series of deadly accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives over the years. Figures recently released by the state’s statistics agency show that 1,249 train accidents took place last year, the highest number since 2009 when the number reached 1,577.
It was the deadliest rail accident since 2006, when at least 52 people and 144 injured in a collision between two trains traveling on the same track near Cairo.
In 2012, a train rammed into a school bus south of Cairo and killed 50 people, mostly children.
There have been many other fatal crashes on the busy rail network.
In July 2008, at least 44 people died near Marsa Matruh in northwest Egypt when a runaway truck hurtled into bus, truck and several cars waiting at a level crossing, shunting the vehicles into the path of a train.
In the wake of that crash, an Egyptian court sentenced 14 railway employees to one year in prison for neglect.
The deadliest accident on Egypt’s railways dates back to 2002 when 373 people died as a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.

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