Curfew crash kills 18 as Egypt enters lockdown

A lorry ploughed into a line of cars waiting for police to check their curfew exemptions

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Egypt’s anti-coronavirus curfew got off to a deadly start late on Wednesday when a speeding lorry rammed into 14 waiting vehicles in a suburb south of Cairo, killing 18 people and injuring 12.

Security officials said the line of vehicles were waiting at a motorway checkpoint in the industrial suburb of Helwan as officers approved their exemption to be out after curfew, which began at 7pm on Wednesday night.

The lorry was loaded with construction material, they said.

Most of the victims were passengers in two microbuses, authorities added. The injured were taken to El Saff Central Hospital in the province of Giza for treatment.

The two-week curfew kicked off on Wednesday, the latest bid by the government to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus that has to date killed 21 people. Authorities have reported more than 400 confirmed cases of Corvid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The government has also banned large gatherings, halted international air travel and suspended schools and universities. Religious authorities also shut down mosques and churches.

President Abdel Fatah El Sisi urged Egyptians on Wednesday night to respect the rules introduced to combat the virus. Writing on his official Facebook page, he also reassured Egyptians that “we will get through these critical moments and, with God’s help, they will become a memory from a distant past.”