Trains Collide in Egypt, Killing at Least 32

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CAIRO — Two trains collided in southern Egypt on Friday, killing at least 32 people and injuring 90, in the latest disaster to strike a railway system that has been plagued by accidents, poor maintenance and mismanagement for years.

The Egyptian National Railways Authority said “unknown actors” had activated the brakes on one of the trains involved near the city of Sohag on the Nile and another train coming from behind crashed into it, causing two passenger cars to overturn. A video shot by a passenger and posted online showed a frantic scene inside one of the cars, where people appeared to be trapped.

“Save us,” one of the passengers is heard screaming. “We can’t get the people out.”

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised in a post on his official Twitter page to penalize those responsible.

“The pain that breaks our hearts will only increase our resolve to end such disasters,” he said.

The collision came as Egypt was dealing with a crisis on the Suez Canal, where a cargo ship that ran aground has halted traffic for days on one of the world’s main shipping routes.

Egypt’s creaking railways have a terrible safety record, with deadly crashes, fires and collisions at signal crossings a frequent occurrence. In 2002, the country’s worst rail disaster claimed more than 300 lives when a fire erupted on a speeding train traveling to Cairo from southern Egypt.

At least 20 people were killed and dozens were injured in 2019 when a train crashed into a platform at Cairo’s main rail station, touching off a fire. A year earlier, a passenger train and a cargo train collided in the Nile Delta north of Cairo, killing at least 12 people. In 2017, two trains crashed near the port city of Alexandria, killing at least 37 people and injuring more than 100.

While investigations and inquiries are often ordered up following the crashes, little has been done to solve the longstanding problems. After one crash in 2018, Mr. Sisi said the government lacked the roughly $14 billion needed to overhaul the run-down rail system.

Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.

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