CAIRO: At least 11 people were killed and nearly 100 injured in a train accident in Egypt on Sunday.
Four carriages of a train heading from Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura came off the tracks in Toukh, a small farming town in Qalioubia province about 40km north of the capital.
Saudi Arabia was among the first to express its sorrow after the tragedy. “The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Egypt’s Health Ministry said more than 50 ambulances took the injured to three hospitals in the province, and 14 people who sustained minor injuries were released from a hospital close to the accident site. Investigators had been sent to determine the accident’s cause, the ministry said.
Ashraf Raslan, the head of the railway authority, said an urgent technical committee had been formed to find out why the train derailed.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also ordered the Egyptian military’s engineering authority to investigate the crash. The driver and other rail officials were detained for questioning.
Sunday’s train accident came three weeks after two passenger trains collided in the province of Sohag, killing at least 18 people and injuring 200 others, including children.
Prosecutors said they found that gross negligence by railway employees was behind the deadly March 25 crash, which caused public outcry across the country.
Fifteen people were injured this month when two train carriages derailed near Minya Al-Qamh city, about 70km north of Cairo.
In February 2019 an unmanned locomotive slammed into a barrier inside Cairo’s main Ramses railway station, causing a huge explosion and a fire that killed at least 25 people. That crash prompted the then-transportation minister to resign.
In August 2017, 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 was in 2002, when over 300 people were killed after a fire broke out in an overnight train traveling from Cairo to southern Egypt.
Egyptian rail disasters are generally attributed to poor infrastructure and maintenance, but Transport Minister Kamel El-Wazir — a former general named to the post after a deadly 2019 train collision — blamed the March crash on human error.
“We have a problem with the human element,” he said after the crash, and pledged to put in place an automated network by 2024.
The African Development Bank announced a $170 million loan this month to improve safety on Egypt’s rail network.
The bank said the money would be used “to enhance operational safety and to increase network capacity on national rail lines.”
It said: “The planned upgrades are expected to benefit low-income Egyptians, about 40 percent of the population, who rely on trains as an affordable mode of transport.”