OHS Canada Magazine

Egypt orders eight workers detained after deadly train collision


By Samy Mady

SUEZ, Egypt — Egypt’s chief prosecutor Monday ordered eight rail employees, including two train drivers, to remain in custody for their alleged roles in a deadly crash in the country’s south.

Two passenger trains collided Friday in the province of Sohag, about 440 kilometres south of Cairo. It was the latest in a series of deadly railway accidents that have rocked the country in recent years.

General Prosecutor Hamada el-Sawy in a statement revised downward the number killed to 18 and 200 injured, including children. On Saturday, Health Minister Hala Zayed had told a news conference that at least 19 people were killed and 185 injured. That number was down from the 32 killed initially announced Friday.

Those ordered to remain in custody included the two train drivers and their assistants, el-Sawy said. A control tower guard, the head of traffic control in neighbouring Assiut province, and two other guards were also jailed, he said.

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The two trains collided at the town of Tahta, causing two train cars to derail and flip on their side. Rail officials initially said someone activated the emergency brakes on one of the trains, which was headed to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly has said, however, that no cause has been determined.

Train wrecks and mishaps are common in Egypt, which has one of the world’s oldest rail systems, despite public outcry.

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 crash prompted the then-transportation minister to resign.

Egypt’s deadliest train crash was in 2002, when over 300 people were killed after a fire broke out in a train travelling from Cairo to southern Egypt.