Train collision in northern Egypt kills 43; 122 injured

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Two trains are seen after they collided just outside Egypt’s  Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. (AP Photo/Ravy Shaker)
Two trains are seen after they collided just outside Egypt’s Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. (AP Photo/Ravy Shaker)

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) — Two passenger trains collided on Friday just
outside Egypt’s Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43
people, according to authorities, the country’s deadliest rail
accident in more than a decade.

Magdy Hegazy, a top health official in Alexandria, said that along
with the 43 killed, the crash also injured 122 people.

The Egyptian Railways Authority said earlier that a train coming from
Cairo, Egypt’s capital, crashed into the back of a train that was
waiting at a small station in the district of Khorshid, just east of
Alexandria.

The stationary train had just arrived from Port Said, a Mediterranean
city on the northern tip of the Suez Canal, when it was hit,
according to the statement.

The statement did not say what caused the accident, only that the
authority’s experts would investigate.

Associated Press footage from the scene showed mangled train coaches
on the tracks and several others derailed as hundreds of onlookers
and victims’ relatives gathered around on both sides of the tracks.

Ambulances were standing by and riot police and soldiers were
deployed to keep the onlookers away from the scene of the disaster.

Residents from nearby homes rushed to the scene to look for survivors
inside crushed train carriages or offer first aid to the injured.

An eyewitness who lives close to the crash site said he and others
ran toward the site when they heard the sound of the impact.

“We ran to the scene and we found people jumping from the train and
lots of dead,” said Abdel-Bari Abdel-Hamid.

By nightfall, cranes aided by floodlights began to remove the
wreckage off the tracks to allow rail traffic to resume. Rescue
teams, meanwhile, continued to look for more bodies and injured
passengers inside the carriages.

Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on
decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.

Friday’s crash 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.

Friday’s accident was the deadliest rail accident since 2006, when at
least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near
Cairo.

And earlier, in 2002, a massive fire engulfed a train filled with
local holiday travelers. The train sped for miles, with flames
engulfing one carriage after another, killing more than 370 people.

In November 2012, a speeding train crashed into a bus carrying
Egyptian children to their kindergarten in the country’s south,
killing more than 50 — mostly children between the ages of four and
six. Two months later, at least 19 people died and more than 100 were
injured in a train derailment south of Cairo.

Zaki reported from Cairo.