Egypt’s Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed has revealed the official casualties count in the Sohag train collision stood at 19 dead and 185 injured.
Zayed’s remarks came during an Egyptian Cabinet press conference on Saturday, headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, which provided further details of the developments in the wake of the accident.
The minister explained that the updated numbers were recorded after a comprehensive audit by the ministry, public prosecution, and hospitals who received the victims.
The Ministry of Health and Population initially announced that at least 32 people died and 165 were injured in the accident.
“We monitored 64 cases of injury and death that were transferred to hospital, 20 of whom were in a coma but which were first reported as deaths,” the minister said.
She added that 116 bone fractures were recorded, while 89 different surgeries were required. A further 20 cases were in a complete coma after concussion, and three cases were in need of delicate surgery, and were transferred to the Nasser Institute.
The two train drivers, their assistants, the control tower’s worker, and the railway crossing operator will be questioned and tested for drugs, according to an official statement.
On Friday, two trains collided in the Tahta district in Sohag governorate. Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy ordered, late on Friday, a set of measures to investigate the train collision.
The Ministry of Transportation said shortly after the incident that the collision occurred after “an emergency brake in some carriages [of Train 157 Luxor-Alexandria] was activated by unknown individuals”.
It forced the train, which had been travelling to Alexandria from Luxor, to come to a sudden stop only to be hit from behind by a following train, Train 709 between Aswan and Cairo.
The collision caused two carriages from the Luxor-Alexandria train and the tractor of the Aswan-Cairo train to derail and flip over, leading to the casualties, the Ministry of Transportation added.
During the press conference, Minister of Transportation Kamel El-Wazir said, “I will not talk about how the accident happened, because this is in the hands of the General Prosecutor and he will announce all the details so that we will not anticipate the events so as not to affect the course of the investigation.”
He also said that EGP 225bn, out of the total EGP 1.5trn allocated to Egypt’s Ministry of Transportation, has been directed to the development of the country’s 10,000 km railway network.
In addition, an express train network of three electric lines, consisting of 1,800 km worth EGP 360bn, will be conducted in parallel with the development of the current network.
He pointed out that the EGP 225bn includes the construction and duplication of existing and new lines, worth about EGP 73bn. This is in addition to importing new tractors and vehicles, and developing existing vehicles, worth about EGP 48bn. A further EGP 23.5bn will go to developing rails and crossings, and developing signals will receive about EGP 46.8bn.
The plan included three stages, with an urgent phase aiming to restore discipline, behaviour, cleanliness, security, and provide workshops for staff. It will also see the Wardan Institute established, to advance the Egyptian railway network’s employees train technical staff able to handle, maintain, and secure modern equipment. This is set to be completed by the end of June this year.
El-Wazir held an urgent meeting with Egyptian National Railways Authority (ENRA) leaders, in the wake of the accident.
A source at the authority revealed to local media that the meeting discussed: the causes and developments of the accident; aspects related to reviewing the signalling system; safety and security factors; maintenance plans; and other matters related to the accident, such as conducting analyses to detect drug abuse.
Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Kabbaj said that EGP 100,000 will be allocated to every family who died in the Sohag train accident, provided that the compensation is paid within a week.
A further EGP 100,000 will be disbursed to those with total disability, and EGP 75,000 to the 50% disabled, alongside progressive disability of between EGP 40,000 – 75,000 and a monthly pension for their life span for those left with total disability.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with Madbouly, Zayed, El-Wazir, and El-Kabbaj, to review all the details related to the accident, its circumstances, and the developments of the ongoing investigations. He is also reviewing the reports related to the treatment and medical measures taken so far towards the injured, as well as compensation for the martyrs and the injured.
The President has directed for the utmost possible care to be provided to the injured, and to pay a fixed pension to those affected by permanent disabilities and disabilities as a result of the accident, with appropriate compensation paid to the families of the victims.
He also directed the implementation of measures that would achieve a balance between the completion of the comprehensive radical modernisation plan for the railway facility nationwide and its modern electronic systems.
This will take place in parallel with the continued operation of trains, to ensure the enhancement of safety standards for passengers, while accepting the possibility of some delay in train schedules until the modernisation is completed.
The concerned officials will also have the opportunity to accurately explain to citizens all the relevant details that will be applied in this framework, as the final completion of the system is the only way to end this pattern of disasters.