Driver in deadly Egypt bus crash arrested after positive drug test

At least 22 people were killed and seven were injured when minibus swerved into an irrigation canal in the Nile delta

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The driver of a minibus that plunged into an irrigation canal in the Egyptian Nile Delta on Saturday morning, killing at least 22 people and injuring seven, has been detained after test showed he was under the influence of drugs.

A statement from Egypt’s public prosecution said it interviewed some of those injured in the crash, several of whom confirmed that the driver was speaking on his mobile phone when another vehicle cut in front of the bus at a high speed and forced him to swerve into the Al Rayah Al Tawfiki Canal in the town of Aga.

The driver, who was injured in the incident, denied the passengers’ testimony during questioning, prosecutors said.

Local news outlets reported that the driver was arrested as he fled a hospital in the city of Mansoura, where some victims were taken after the crash.

He was reported to have suffered sprains in his legs and shoulder after he jumped out of the minibus before it landed in the canal.

After blood tests, prosecutors determined that the driver had been under the influence of at least one illicit substance at the time of crash.

A more extensive examination was ordered “to determine the extent of his drug use”, prosecution said in the statement.

Earlier on Saturday, the health ministry said 18 ambulances had been sent to the scene of the crash.

Videos posted on social media showed residents helping police to remove bodies from the water.

Reports said the bus was carrying 46 passengers, including a group of students, who were the majority of casualties.

Six women and three children were among the injured.

Countries issued statements of condolences following the crash, including Greece, Qatar and Cyprus.

In the UAE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation "expressed its sincere condolences to the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, and to the families of the victims, and its wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured", according to state news agency Wam.

Egypt's Ministry of Social Solidarity said families who lost breadwinners in the accident would be paid 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,100), while families of other victims would receive 25,000 pounds. The injured will receive 5,000 pounds.

The ministry said the victims' families and the injured would be included in the government’s Takaful and Karama welfare programme that provides cash aid, job assistance and other benefits.

Road accidents kill thousands every year in Egypt, a country where transport safety records are poor mainly because of speeding, bad roads and lax enforcement of traffic laws.

Last month, 10 people were killed and nine were injured when a minibus collided with a lorry in the Nile Delta. An entire family and three sisters were among the dead.

The collision occurred on a motorway connecting Dakahlia with Gamasa.

Updated: November 13, 2022, 5:41 PM