QALYOUB, Egypt: A train crash killed and injured dozens of people in a Nile Delta town north of Cairo on Monday in Egypt s worst rail disaster for four years. Casualty figures varied widely. The health minister put the toll at 58 dead and 143 injured. A security source had earlier said up to 80 had died. An investigation was under way. State news agency MENA said the accident happened early in the morning when a train driver apparently ignored a signal and one commuter train ploughed into the rear of another. The head of the state railway authority blamed human error for the crash, MENA reported. The first train was stopped. We looked and saw the other train coming from behind, screeching, said Khalil Sheikh Khalil, who had disembarked from a minibus nearby moments before the crash. We kept saying: Driver, driver, a train is coming. So the train driver moved up 15 meters, and while he was moving, the two trains impacted, he told Reuters. Khalil said the engine of the rear train burst into flames on impact. A Reuters photographer at the scene said one of the trains had derailed and was lying on its side. It had split into four parts and appeared to have burned.
I was in the train from Benha which had stopped for five minutes. Suddenly, we felt something like an earthquake, we jumped out the windows and we saw fire at the back of the train, said Mamduh Amer, a 29-year-old policeman. The crash ripped seats from the train carriages, which were littered with clothes and shoes. The carriages had been crushed together like an accordion. A loud crash awoke me. One of the trains had derailed and people were scattered on the floor. I called the authorities and they told me I was crazy, said Osama Abdul Haleem, who lives near the crash site. I told them there are dead and dying there on the ground.
A resident in a nearby building, 53-year-old Suad Abdallah, said: I had just woken up at around 7 o clock (04:00 GMT), when I heard a dreadful noise. I ran to the balcony and I saw smoke and bodies hanging from the carriages. Her sons, like many other residents near the rail tracks, jumped over the low wall separating houses from the railway, and began removing corpses and helping the wounded. We called the fire service, but in the beginning they didn t believe us, said Shaima Samir, 23, her voice almost drowned out by the wail of ambulance sirens. Rescue workers scrambled to evacuate the casualties, loading them onto some two dozen ambulances. Blood was spattered across the wreckage of both trains. By midday, rescuers were still recovering bodies, using a bulldozer to pull apart a metal side panel to reach a body lodged in one of the carriages. Rescuers found body parts in the rubble under one of the carriages. Hundred of bystanders and passengers relatives anxious for news converged on the wreckage in a semi-rural area about 20 km north of Cairo. Security troops linked arms to keep the crowds at bay. Officials called on people over loudhailers to give blood, and a queue formed in response. Crowds also berated a government official at the scene, chanting negligence and scuffling with police who tried to disperse them. Health Minister Hatem El-Gabali said the government would pay LE 5,000 ($871) to families of the dead and LE 1,000 for the wounded. It would also cover funeral costs. An opposition politician at the scene said government lenience over a string of previous transport accidents meant there was no motivation to maintain safety standards. More than 1,000 people died in February when a ferry sank in the Red Sea. Investigations primarily blamed the captain, who died, for not following safety procedures, but the public directed its rage at the ferry owner, a member of parliament. Monday s crash was the deadliest railway accident in Egypt since about 360 were killed in 2002 when fire ripped through seven carriages of a crowded passenger train. That accident was the worst in 150 years of Egyptian rail history and prompted the resignation of the transport minister and the head of the state railway system. Agencies