19 killed as Egypt train carrying troops derails: ministry
CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoA train carrying military conscripts derailed southwest of Cairo on Tuesday, killing 19 people and wounding 107, the health ministry said, highlighting the country's chronic transport problems.
The train was taking young recruits from south Egypt to a military camp in Cairo when two carriages went off the rails shortly after midnight in the Giza neighbourhood of Badrasheen, officials said.
More than 60 ambulances were sent to the site of the accident, where rescuers were working to extract survivors and bodies from the twisted heap of metal on the side of the rails.
Prime Minister Hesham Qandeel was met with howls of outrage when he arrived at the scene, with local residents shouting, "You have blood on your hands, Mr. Hesham." His security quickly whisked him away, an AFP photographer said.
The injured have been taken to local hospitals for treatment, the health ministry said.
The accident is the latest in a string of transport disasters plaguing Egypt, and comes just two weeks after a new transport minister was appointed.
According to media reports, it is the fifth deadly train accident since President Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's first Islamist president in June.
Morsi's tenure so far has been marked by political divisions over the role of religion in politics and freedoms, but the latest accident is a further test of how his government will deal with Egyptians' everyday problems.
In a message on Twitter, the president's Muslim Brotherhood said "sincere condolences go out to the families of the victims of the horrific train crash in Badrasheen, we pray for speedy recovery of the injured." The spokesman of the armed forces also sent condolences on his official Facebook page.
Transport minister Hatem Abdel Latif, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said an investigation will be launched into the accident.
"We have to admit that the railway system is decaying. We will carry out investigations to know whether the accident happened because of defects in the train or rails or because of other reasons," Abdel Latif was quoted as saying by the state owned Al-Ahram website.
In November, nearly 50 school children were killed when a train smashed into their bus in central Egypt after a railway signal operator fell asleep, prompting protests and resignations.
The railway network's poor safety record stems largely from lack of maintenance and poor management. 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 the country's transport problems, with roads as poorly maintained as railway lines.