Cairo: six arrests after train crash that killed 25

Prosecutor says the deadly incident was triggered by a brawl between train conductors

Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramses Station in Cairo. AP
Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramses Station in Cairo. AP

Six people have been arrested over Wednesday’s deadly crash at Cairo’s main train station. The suspects – two train conductors, their aides and two other rail workers – are expected to remain in custody until Monday.

Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek said the accident was triggered by a brawl between two conductors. Mr Sadek said the runaway train carriage slammed into platform six of Ramses Station after its conductor left his car to argue with a colleague.

He said one conductor failed to put the brakes on before leaving the locomotive, letting the unmanned train gather speed and slam into a concrete barrier, causing a huge fire.

The explosion happened on a busy Wednesday morning – 25 people died and 47 were injured.

Online videos showed charred bodies, while survivors looked on in shock. Some of the bodies were too burnt to be identified, and DNA tests had to be carried out.

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat resigned after the accident.

The driver of the crashed locomotive, Alaa Fathy, gave his account in a TV interview.

“I was going to park the train and another locomotive ran into me. We [the drivers] both got out and started arguing. I wish I had shut the engine off before I got out but the locomotive started to move until it crashed,” he said.

Addressing the families of Wednesday’s victims directly, he asked for forgiveness.

“I am sorry for my negligence; it was not my intention. May God aid the injured and their families, and God bless the dead,” he said.

BBC Arabic on Friday reported that a young man was arrested as he stood in the capital’s Tahrir Square, clutching a sign that read “Leave, Sisi”.

In 2011 thousands of protesters gathered in the same square to demand the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

The man, identified as a pharmacist called Ahmed Mohi, was arrested by members of the security forces after a live Facebook broadcast in which he urged Egyptians to revolt against President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. His protest was in response to the deadly train accident.

Wednesday’s accident also triggered an online debate, with many social media users blaming the country’s antiquated railway system.

This is not the first deadly train incident to take place in Egypt. According to official figures, 1,793 accidents of this kind took place last year alone.

In March last year, 15 people died when a cargo train collided with a passenger train heading to Cairo. Two years ago, 41 passengers were killed and 133 were wounded when two trains collided in Alexandria.

The deadliest recorded accident took place in 2002, when almost 400 people were killed as a fire erupted on board a train leaving Cairo.

Updated: March 2, 2019 07:27 PM


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