Train accident north of Cairo has killed at least 11 people, say Egyptian authorities

A passenger train derailed north of Cairo, killing at least 11 people, Egyptian authorities have said, in the latest in a string of rail accidents to hit the country in recent years.

Four train wagons ran off the railway track by the city of Banha in Qalyubia province, just outside Cairo, the railway authority said in a statement on Sunday. Videos on social media showed wagons overturned and passengers escaping to safety along the railway.

The train was travelling to the Nile delta city of Mansoura from the Egyptian capital.

The health ministry said that at least 98 people were injured, with most of them suffering from broken bones, cuts and bruises. At least 60 ambulances were sent to the scene and the injured were taken to nearby hospitals.

Salvage teams could be seen searching for survivors and removing the derailed wagons. It was not immediately clear what caused the train to derail and prosecutors said they were investigating the causes of the crash.

The state-run Ahram daily newspaper reported that authorities have detained at least 10 railway officials, including the train driver and his assistant, pending an investigation.

At Banha University hospital, people lined up to donate blood for the crash victims. Families were also present looking for loved ones who had been travelling on the train.

Sunday’s 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 25 March crash, which caused public outcry across the country.

Train wrecks and mishaps are common in Egypt, where the railway system has a history of badly maintained equipment and mismanagement. The government says it has launched a broad renovation and modernisation initiative. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in March 2018 that the government needs about 250bn Egyptian pounds ($14.1bn) to overhaul the rundown rail system.

Hundreds of train accidents are reported every year in Egypt. 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 travelling from Cairo to southern Egypt.

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