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Middle East

Dozens killed in Egypt rail accident

Mini-bus carrying guests home from wedding, many from same family, struck by train at railway crossing south of Cairo.

Last updated: 18 Nov 2013 08:22
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At least 30 were killed, while many others were injured with fractures, crush injuries and lost body parts [AFP]

At least 30 people have been killed in an accident at a railway crossing in Egypt, according to the country's Health Ministry.

Another 28 people were wounded in the accident early on Monday, which occurred about 40km south of Cairo when a train ploughed into a lorry and a mini-bus.

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Kamal al-Dali, local police chief, told state television the mini-bus was carrying guests home from a wedding.

Ahmed al-Ansari, the emergency services chief, told AP news agency that the identities of the dead were not immediately clear.

He said the injured mostly had fractures, crush injuries and lost body parts, with some in critical condition.

The head of the Egyptian Railway Authority, Hussein Zakaria, said the vehicles had ignored warning lights and chains blocking entry, and tried to drive through the crossing.

"The bus stormed the crossing, according to initial reports," he told state television. "The crossing was closed with chains, there were warning lights," he added.

The train, whose driver survived the crash, continued for almost one kilometre before coming to a halt, he said.

Poor management

Egypt's rail network has a poor safety record arising largely from lack of maintenance and poor management.

In January, 17 people died when a train transporting conscripts derailed, and in November 2012, 47 school children were killed when a train crashed into their bus.

Both the transport minister and the railway authority head were forced to resign as a result of that accident, which was blamed on a train signal operator who fell asleep on the job.

The government formed a panel to investigate, but as with similar tragedies in the past, it did little to shed light on the details and less still to bring about accountability.

In Egypt's deadliest railway tragedy, the bodies of more than 360 passengers were recovered from a train after a fire in 2002.

Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to deal with the country's chronic transport problems, with roads as poorly maintained as railway lines.

Monday's accident took place just days after train services resumed completely across the country, after they were halted due to unrest following the military's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July.

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Source:
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