Train accident near Cairo kills over 80

There's been serious train accident not too far from Cairo this morning in Qalyoub. At least 80 dead so far, but the death toll has been steadily going up all morning.
QALYOUB, Egypt, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A collision between two trains killed 80 people and injured 131 on Monday in a Nile Delta town north of Cairo, a security source said, in Egypt's worst rail disaster since 2002.

About 25 ambulances rushed to the crash site, along with hundreds of bystanders and relatives anxious for news of passengers who might have been killed or injured, a witness said, adding that damage to the trains was extensive.

The accident took place at about 7.30 a.m. (0430 GMT) near the town of Qalyoub, about 20 km (12 miles) north of Cairo, official sources told the state news agency MENA. They said one of the drivers had apparently ignored railway traffic signals.

A Reuters photographer at the scene said one of the trains had derailed and was on its side. It had split into four parts and there were signs of a fire, he said.

MENA quoted official Egyptian sources as saying the death toll was at least 20. The crash happened when one train ran into the rear of another, causing one of them to derail and overturn.
This will remind a lot of people of the Al Ayyat train disaster of 2002, the worst in Egypt's history, in which at least 360 people died, caused the resignation of the transport minister at the time and discredited the Atef Ebeid government. I wonder if there will be an investigation into what has been done since Al Ayyat to improve train safety.

Update: Just saw a French AFP news report saying the accident occurred after a collision of two trains that were on the same track and had not respected signals.

Les deux trains circulaient sur la même voie en direction de la capitale, l'un en provenance de Mansoura (130 km au nord du Caire) et l'autre de Benha (50 kms au nord). Selon les premiers éléments de l'enquête, l'un des trains n'a pas respecté un feu de signalisation, percutant violemment l'arrière du second. Les deux trains ne sont plus qu'un enchevêtrement de ferraille, autour duquel des dizaines de secouristes s'affairent pour tenter de retrouver des survivants, selon une journaliste de l'AFP. Deux wagons ont basculé sur le bas-côté de la voie. Des ambulances passent sirènes hurlantes, pour transporter les victimes dans sept hôpitaux de la région. Parmi les passagers figuraient des paysans ainsi que des fonctionnaires, dont de nombreux policiers, qui se rendaient au Caire pour y travailler, a affirmé un policier, Mamdouh Amer. Le 1er mai, 45 Egyptiens avaient été blessés lors d'une collision entre deux trains dans le gouvernorat de Charquiya, au nord du Caire. Fin février, 20 personnes avaient également été blessées dans un accident similaire près d'Alexandrie (nord).

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,