SOHAG: A collision between two trains killed at least 32 people and left more than 160 injured Friday in southern Egypt, a country plagued by fatal rail accidents widely blamed on crumbling infrastructure and poor maintenance.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged tough punishment for those responsible for the crash, which came as his government wrestles with another major transport challenge: a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal.
Medical reinforcements were routed from Cairo and more than a hundred ambulances were mobilized to transport the injured to hospital from the scene in the Tahta district of Sohag province, 460 kilometers south of the capital.
The health ministry gave an updated casualty toll of at least 32 dead and 165 people hospitalized with injuries, 70 percent of them fractures.
Dozens of technicians were working through Friday evening to remove five dislocated and damaged train wagons, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent on the scene said.
“We were at the mosque then a child came and told us [about the incident]. We heard the collision, so we rushed and found the carnage,” said one witness, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The first ambulances arrived around half an hour after the explosion… there were children who removed [debris] using wooden ladders,” the source, who spent the day helping the rescue workers, said.
Surveillance camera footage of the accident seen by AFP showed a carriage being violently thrown into the air in a cloud of dust when a speeding train rammed into another as it rolled slowly down the tracks.
Twisted metal jutted from the wreckage as dozens of people gathered around the overturned carriages. Harrowing images from inside one of the carriages posted on Facebook showed people screaming for help as they tried to free themselves from the wreckage.