Tragedy struck the Egyptian city of Alexandria.
Last Friday afternoon, over 40 people died and three times that number were injured when one train “headed from the capital, Cairo, rear-ended another train that had been sitting near a station east of Alexandria.”
The Associated Press has footage from the scene that “showed mangled train coaches on the tracks and several others derailed as hundreds of onlookers and victims’ relatives gathered around on both sides of the tracks.”
Riot police, ambulances, and soldiers were sprinkled throughout the scene “to keep the onlookers away from the scene of the disaster.”
According to NPR:
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, has summoned railway officials for questioning, and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has ordered the formation of a task force to investigate the incident…
…”They rose in the air forming a pyramid when they collided,” one witness told Reuters. “I started to scream from the rooftops for people to grab some sheets and run.”
Other eyewitnesses reported on the speed of the train they were riding, “The train I was riding was going very quickly…I found myself on the floor. When we came out, we found four train cars crushed and a lot of people on the ground.”
Many were jumping from the trains with hopes of survival.
One civil servant remembered, “When I arrived on the scene, I found civilians helping passengers. People were screaming and one child was trying to find his mother. There were many bodies around us covered in white sheets.”
This is not an isolated incident. According to AP reports, “Friday’s crash was the latest in a series of deadly accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives over the years. Figures recently released by the state’s statistics agency show that 1,249 train accidents took place last year, the highest number since 2009 when the number reached 1,577.”
Egypt’s last significant wreck occurred four years ago when a train hit a bus on a railway crossing — killing 27 individuals who were returning from a wedding.
That same year, in 2013, a train derailed and killed 17.
In 2012, “47 schoolchildren were killed when a train crashed into their bus.”
Egypt’s most horrific train accident took the lives of 373 people “when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.”
A little slice of hell on earth, “a massive fire engulfed a train filled with local holiday travelers. The train sped for miles, with flames engulfing one carriage after another.”
The government should be held accountable for these tragedies. The lack of infrastructure, quality equipment, reliable workers, and general accountability makes one of the few accessible forms of transportation the most deadly.
Appointing a new Transportation Minister or firing the man at the switch will not solve the problem that has been plaguing Egypt for over a decade.