At least 15 people were reported dead and 40 injured in a train accident on Wednesday near Beheira, Giza, according to the Ministry of Transportation. The death toll is expected to increase.
Minister of Transportation Hesham Arafat ordered officials to head to the location of the accident to oversee investigations. The Ministry of Health said that a passenger train derailed and had partially collided with another train.
The ambulance authority said that 30 vehicles have been sent to the area. The ministry added that the dead and injured have been transferred to hospitals in Etay Al-Barod, and a state of emergency has been declared in the hospitals in Damanhour and Kafr Al-Dawar.
A plan to renovate the railway signal system began in March 2014, whereby the Egyptian Railway Authority shut down 1,593 crossings for maintenance, leaving only 351 in operation.
Trains are separated according to first-, second-, and third-class trains. The train that was involved in Wednesday’s accident was a third-class train.
On 11 August 2017, an express train from Cairo rammed into the rear of a train en route to Alexandria from Port Said. Upon public controversy because of repeated incidents, Egyptian Railway Authority then-chief Medhat Shousha resigned.
Train accidents in Egypt are frequent due to the substandard infrastructure of railways and rundown train engines that have been in use for decades. Furthermore, a large number of railway signals nationwide do not operate properly.
In 2012, a train heading to Assiut hit a school bus, leaving 52 children dead. The accident was heavily criticised in the media and was used as evidence against the incompetency of the Muslim Brotherhood regime at that time.
This was not the first accident of its kind. Trains for the lower-class in Egypt are notorious for having rundown engines and are repeatedly involved in accidents.
An estimated 1,044 accidents took place in 2014, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS).
In December 2016, CAPMAS reported that during the first half of 2015, the number of victims in train accidents decreased from an average of 2.1 injured or deceased per accident in 2014, to 1.7 injured or deceased person per accident. According to the report, the highest rate of deaths occurred in Damietta, with 95.2 deaths for every 100 injured persons.
The worst accident in history was in Al-Ayyat in 2002 when a fire broke out in a third-class train heading to Upper Egypt, leaving more than 350 dead. Another accident took place in Al-Ayyat in 2009 when two trains collided, leaving 30 passengers dead.