A train collision near Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria on Friday killed at least 42 people and injured 133 others, Egyptian officials said. Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said “human error” had caused the accident.
The two trains collided head on — one was coming from the capital of Cairo, to the south of Alexandria, and the other was coming from the city of Port Said, located on the northern tip of the Suez Canal. A witness told reporters the trains rose into the air “forming a pyramid” as they slammed into each other just outside a suburban station in the city. Some 75 emergency vehicles were used to transport the dead and wounded, said Health Ministry spokesperson Dr. Khaled Mojahed.
A railroad switching error was the most likely cause, a security source told Reuters without giving further details. “In order to avoid it, we have to develop the infrastructure,” Arafat told state television. “A project was under way to improve the area’s facilities, but such plans took time and money.”
Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management. This is the deadliest train accident in the country since a November 2013 collision between a train and a bus killed 27 people south of Cairo. In 2002, 373 people died when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.