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Two dead, 16 hurt in Egypt train accident: health ministry

A crane is deployed to lift a derailed train at the scene of a railroad accident in the city of Qalyub in Qalyub province, in Egypt's Nile delta region
— Qalyub (Egypt) (AFP)

Two people were killed and several others injured Tuesday in a train accident north of Cairo, Egypt's health ministry said after the country's latest rail tragedy.

A ministry statement said there were "two dead in the train accident at Qalyub, while the injured are in a stable condition."

An earlier ministry toll that reported one dead also listed 16 injured, including six already treated and released.

The incident occurred in Qalyub, just north of the capital Cairo in the Nile Delta.

Egypt's national rail authority said the accident occurred when a passenger train entering Qalyub station went through a stop signal.

"That led to the derailment of the locomotive and the first carriage," the authority said in a statement.

Pictures from the scene showed first responders converging on rail cars which still appeared to be right side up, behind a high wall in a built-up area.

Police formed a perimeter to hold back crowds who perched on other walls nearby.

A crane was later brought in to lift a derailed car which appeared to be partially crumpled.

Egyptian rail accidents have mostly been blamed on poor infrastructure and maintenance.

In April 2021, Transport Minister Kamel el-Wazir fired the rail authority's head following an uproar in the Arab world's most populous country over mismanagement of dilapidated train lines.

The sacking came two days after an accident that cost 23 lives.

- Sacking -

Ashraf Raslan was dismissed as part of a shuffle of 10 top railway officials.

A crane is deployed to lift a derailed train car after an accident at Qalyub station north of the Egyptian capital Cairo

"The goal of these decisions is not merely about leadership changes of the authority but are in line with the next stage which demands... a complete upgrade of the railway network," the transport ministry said at the time.

The changes "underway aim to provide better services, working around the clock to serve commuters and to upgrade... this essential service which transports millions of passengers yearly", it said in a statement.

In March 2021, at least 20 people died and nearly 200 were injured in a train crash in southern Egypt, according to an official toll which authorities revised several times.

The prosecution service later alleged the driver of the speeding Egyptian train and his assistant had both left the driver's cabin when it crashed into another train, which was stationary.

The assistant on the second train had used cannabis and was under the influence of the painkiller tramadol, as was a track signalman, the prosecutor also alleged.

Wazir, a former general, was named transport minister after a 2019 train collision blamed on human error.

"We have a problem with the human element," he said, pledging to set up an automated network by 2024.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has vowed to hold to account those responsible for the recurrent deadly accidents on Egypt's railways in recent years.

One of the deadliest came in 2002 when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital, killing 373 people.

Egypt's roads are also the scene of regular deadly accidents. Roads are often poorly maintained and driving rules flouted.

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