Egypt arrests six over Cairo train crash that killed 25

Egypt arrests six over Cairo train crash that killed 25
Six people have been arrested over a deadly train crash that many Egyptians have linked to alleged government negligence and corruption.
2 min read
01 March, 2019
Wednesday's crash killed at least 25 people and left at least 47 injured [NurPhoto]

Egyptian authorities have arrested six people over a deadly crash at Cairo's main train station that killed at least 25 people.

The country's top prosecutor ordered late on Thursday that those arrested - two train conductors, their aides and two other rail workers - remain in custody for four more days pending further investigation.

The crash, which took place on Wednesday, also left at least 47 injured.

Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek earlier said the investigation determined the accident was triggered by a brawl between two conductors.

He says one conductor failed to put the brakes on before leaving the locomotive, unleashed the speeding, unmanned engine which then crashed into a concrete barrier at the Ramses station in downtown Cairo, setting of a huge explosion and fire.

Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat resigned after the accident. 

Train accidents are not uncommon in Egypt by any means, and Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to maintain the country’s heaving transport links railways and roads.

There were 1,793 train accidents in 2017, according to Egypt’s official statistics agency. Rail accidents have dramatically increased in Egypt since 2011, when 489 occurred.

The railway authority's budget increased from 11.4 billion to 20.6 billion Egyptian pounds (from $650 million to $1.2 billion) between 2011 and 2016.

Egypt was also the recipient of a €290 million ($330 million) loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help support the country’s railway network.

A 2016 crash in Cairo killed 51 people, and a 2018 derailment in Aswan prompted the firing of the chief of the country’s railways. Egypt’s most catastrophic train accident was in 2002, when 373 people died on the Cairo-Luxor line.

Many Egyptians linked Wednesday's crash to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's reticence over improving the country's railway networks, rampant government corruption and an alleged lack of care for Egyptian lives.