Eqypt rail crash: Trains collide rear-end in Sohag killing 32: Health Ministry

Siliguri, India: A rear-end collision of two trains in the northern Egyptian region of Sohag on Friday has killed at least 32 while over 100 people were injured, the national health ministry said in a statement, Al Jazeera reported. 

According to the Egyptian railway authorities, the two trained colluded after emergency brakes were applied by 'unknown individuals' near the city of Sohag, about 500km (260 miles) south of the capital Cairo.

After the screeching brake, one of the trains stopped while the other train crashed from behind. 

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL VIA TWITTER

Rail accident in one of the region's longest and oldest routs is common thanks to the crippling infrastructure.

In 2002, a fire tore through seven carries of a heavily-packed passenger train and killed at least 360 -- the nation's worst train accident recorded. 

Local media footage showed the collisions caused three wagons of the train to de-rail and flip, while depressing scenes from the site showed passengers trapped inside the wagons, in the debris. 

The health ministry, which gave the casualty toll, said dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene in the Tahta district of Sohag province, some 460 kilometers (285 miles) south of Cairo after the collision.

Bystanders carried the bloodied bodies from the spot and placed them in safe spots. People were seen bleeding profusely, while others were unconscious. 

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.


“The trains collided while going at not very high speeds, which led to the destruction of two carriages and a third to overturn,” an unnamed security source told Reuters news agency.

The public prosecutor's office has ordered an investigation into the crash. 

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, an AFP correspondent reported.

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."

'Deterrent punishment'
 

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed to punish the victims whose action caused the rail crash and consoled the death of the victims in a social media post. 

The train accident comes 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.

One of the trains was traveling 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 traveled to Sohag to check on the injured, as authorities opened an investigation.

President Sisi vowed "deterrent punishment" for anyone found responsible.

"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.

The following month, Sisi appointed a senior military officer, General Kamel al-Wazir, to head the transport ministry.

Suez shutdown 

Wazir had been the head of the Egyptian military's engineering authority since 2015.

The unit is behind many of the army's mega-projects, including a new capital east of Cairo and construction of everything from hospitals to sewage treatment plants.

Since he took office in 2014, Sisi has appointed military officers to high-ranking positions, including governorships.

He has repeatedly praised the military's role in delivering major projects in record time such as the expansion of the Suez Canal in August 2015.

The strategic waterway has made headlines since Tuesday when the container ship MV Ever Given -- which is longer than four football fields -- got stuck across the entire canal closing off the vital shipping lane.

The blockage has caused huge traffic jams at either end of the 193-kilometer (120-mile) long canal and major delays in the delivery of oil and other products.

An attempt to refloat the vessel failed on Friday, the vessel's Singapore-based managers Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said, as companies were forced to re-route services from the Suez around the southern tip of Africa, a far longer route.

Egypt's Suez Canal Authority said the vessel veered off course and ran aground when winds reaching 40 knots whipped up a sandstorm that hampered visibility.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

This story has been wrapped. The 4th paragraph was edited to correct an error that said rail accidents are not common in Egypt. 

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