Two trains have crashed in southern Egypt, killing at least 32 people and injuring 165, authorities say, in the latest of a series of deadly accidents on the country’s troubled railways.
Someone apparently activated the emergency brakes on the passenger train and it was rear-ended by another train, causing two cars to derail and flip on their side, Egypt’s Railway Authorities said on Friday, although Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly later added no cause had been determined.
The passenger train was headed to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, north of Cairo.
Video showed twisted piles of metal with passengers covered with dust trapped inside – some bleeding and others unconscious. Bystanders removed the dead and laid them on the ground nearby.
More than 100 ambulances were sent to the scene in the province of Sohag, about 440 kilometres south of Cairo, Health Minister Hala Zayed said, and the injured were taken to four hospitals. Injuries included broken bones, cuts and bruises.
Two planes carrying a total of 52 doctors, mostly surgeons, were sent to Sohag, she added at a news conference in the province, accompanied by Madbouly, who added that a military plane would bring those needing special surgery to Cairo.
Chief Prosecutor Hamada el-Sawy was on the scene to investigate the crash, he said.
“The (railway) service has been neglected for decades to an extent that made it quite outdated and extremely dangerous,” Madbouly told reporters. “We have spent billions to upgrade the railway but we still have a long way to go in order to complete all the required work.”
The government will pay the equivalent of $US6400 ($A8400) in compensation to each family that had a relative killed, Madbouly said, while the injured will get between $US1280 to $US2560, depending on how badly they were hurt.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he was monitoring the situation and that those responsible would receive “a deterrent punishment”.
“The pain that tears our hearts today cannot but make us more determined to end this type of disasters,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Egypt’s rail system has a history of badly maintained equipment and mismanagement. The country’s deadliest train crash was in 2002, when more than 300 people were killed after fire broke out in a train travelling from Cairo to southern Egypt.