Following Wednesday’s deadly train collision in which more than 20 were killed and around 50 were wounded, official investigations have been ongoing and revealing that the event was sparked by neglect rather than by accident.
HOW DID THE CRASH OCCUR?
According to the Public Prosecutor’s statement, the train was heading towards a train yard when when it was struck by another train in an adjacent path.
The collision occurred in Cairo’s Ramses railway station on Wednesday morning. Black smoke could be seen from afar while flames engulfed a good part of the station.
The conductor of the train car exited the locomotive, without turning off the engine to talk to the conductor of the other train. The conductor had not properly set the brake, as he should have, which paved the way for the rest of the crash as the train continued to move forward towards the station at great speed.
Rumours of the train being without a conductor spread amidst the initial frenzy of the incident, paving way for rumored motives of terrorism. However, this fact was solidly confirmed on Wednesday evening by Egyptian officials.
It was further evidenced through a CCTV video which has been circulating online; it shows the train car being left unattended by the driver as he got out to argue with the driver of the other train.
Alaa Fathy, the conductor of the run-away train, admitted in a TV interview with ON channel, at a police station, that he ”didn’t know how to react” and that he was around two to three kilometers away from the last collision site, standing in the train yard. Assuming the train would crash and that he would lose his job, Fathy left the site.
The train collided with the platform and resulted in an explosion of the fuel tank.
WHAT DO WE KNOW OF THE VICTIMS?
Around 24 people were killed in the incident, with between 40-50 injured.
As soon as the incident occurred, Red crescent ambulances and firefighters were at the scene.
Egypt’s Health Minister, Hala Zayed, has been monitoring the condition of those who have been transported to the Shubra Hospital, Railway Hospital and Al-Helal Hospital near the station.
Injuries have ranged from massive to critical while others have already been discharged.
Photos of the victims have been circulating online: some were returning home from charity events, others were simply near the platform as part of their daily work.
However, due to the severe charring of some victims, the police has made it clear that DNA would have to be used for the identification process.
WHAT HAS PUBLIC REACTION BEEN?
On social media, users have been sharing graphic photographs of the incident, with many showing charred bodies on the railway tracks and nearby platform.
There has mostly been a reaction of furry and outrage with many denouncing Egypt’s well-known deteriorating railway system and the shortage of funds allocated to renew it.
There has been particular anger directed at the driver of the train, who was accused of ‘neglect’ and ‘fleeing’ from the site without consideration for the aftermath.
Nonetheless, civilians have been quick to react to the tragedy. One man was seen trying to put out the fire with buckets of water.
Countless others have stepped forward to donate blood at the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) branches and dispatched ambulances. On Thursday, the ERC announced that the donations reached the amount needed to assist the injured.
The Egyptian Orthodox Church offered its condolences for the victims’ families. “We pray for families of the victims that may god bless their souls and grant the injured full recovery,” an official statement from the church read according to Egypt Today.
HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT REACT?
Egypt’s Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli after the huge blaze that broke out at Cairo’s Railway Station in Ramsis.
Egyptian officials, including Preident Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and Prime Minister Mabdouly vowed that those responsible for the incident would be severely punished.
“I issued immediate directives for the government to identify and punish whoever responsible for this catastrophe after thorough investigation and providing the necessary health care for the injured,” Sisi stated according to Al Ahram.
Moreover, each family of the victim is to be given LE 80,000 (US$4,570) as compensation while the injured can take up to LE 25,000 ($1,428).
It is not the first time that trains in Egypt have been involved in serious accidents. Last year, a train collision in Baheria Governorate left 16 dead and 40 injured.
Train accidents are common in Egypt. According to a previous report by Egyptian Streets, there are over 1000 train accidents that take place in Egypt every year according to the Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA).