No fewer than 26 people were killed in Egypt when a train ploughed into a truck and a mini-bus at a railway crossing early Monday, while 28 other people were injured in the accident, which happened south of Cairo, the health ministry said.
Local police chief Kamal al-Dali told state television the mini-bus had been carrying guests home from a wedding.
The head of the Egyptian Railway Authority said the drivers of the vehicles had ignored warning lights and chains blocking entry to the crossing, and tried to go across the tracks.
“The bus stormed the crossing, according to initial reports,” Hussein Zakaria told state television.
“The crossing was closed with chains, (and) there were warning lights,” he said.
The train, whose driver survived the crash, continued for almost one kilometre (0.6 miles) before coming to a halt, he said.
Egypt’s rail network has a poor safety record stemming largely from lack of maintenance and poor management.
In January, 17 people died when a train transporting conscripts derailed, and in November 2012, 47 school children were killed when a train crashed into their bus.
Both the transport minister and the railway authority head were forced to resign as a result of that accident, which was blamed on a train signal operator who fell asleep on the job.
The government formed a panel to investigate, but as with similar tragedies in the past, it did little to shed light on the details and less still to bring about accountability.
In Egypt’s deadliest railway tragedy, the bodies of more than 360 passengers were recovered from a train after a fire in 2002.
Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to deal with chronic transport problems, with roads as poorly maintained as railway lines.
Monday’s accident took place days after train services resumed completely across the country, after they were halted due to unrest following the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in July. [AFP]