More than 30 killed, 50 injured in Ayyat train crash

Train 152 from Giza to Fayyoum never made it beyond the villages of Kafr Ammar and Rejja in Ayyat. Around 6:00 PM yesterday, the train struck a water buffalo. Five minutes later it was rear-ended by train 188. The collision left 30 dead and 50 injured in an accident that recalled other horrific train crashes in recent years.

The two rear cars of train 152 were severely damaged and the bodies of the passengers in the car were torn to pieces, according to eyewitnesses. The rescue effort was impeded by the Ibrahimeyya Canal, which separates the Cairo-Assiut Road from the railway and prevented ambulance access.

Around 15,000 residents of Ayyat headed to the crash site. Some tried to fill in the canal, while others took off their clothes and swam to the other side to help extract the injured and dead.

Two hours after the crash, a front loader was dispatched by the local government and succeeded in filling in part of the canal, allowing ambulances and civil defense vehicles to cross to the other side. The injured were taken to the Ayyat, Badrasheen, Hawamdeyya, Omm el-Masreyyeen, and Qasr el-Ainy hospitals. Corpses and body parts were transported to the Zeinhom Morgue.

In addition to 100 ambulances, many security officials were on the scene shortly after the crash. Public Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud ordered an investigation into the crash. The investigation will be led by Hamada el-Sawy, first public attorney of South Giza Prosecution and includes 50 public prosecutors from Ayyat and Badrasheen. El-Sawy moved to the crash site for inspection purposes, and members of the team were distributed to the different hospitals and the morgue to give burial licenses.

Mahmoud ordered the remains and corpses brought to the Zeinhum morgue and dispatched a team of from the Giza prosecution department to examine the bodies. Mahmoud stressed that agents should not to deliver the copses to families before making sure of the identity of the dead person, so as not to repeat mistakes made after a train fire in 2002.

Preliminary investigations showed train 152 braked after hitting a water buffalo, but the conductor failed to contact workers at the level crossing to avoid a collision with the train coming from behind.

Eye witnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm that some passengers jumped out of the train windows when they saw the other train approaching from behind. The second train was on its way from Cairo to Upper Egypt. The second and third class cars carried passengers from Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, and Souhag.

Train 152 services much of Giza, 6th October, Fayyoum and Beni Souef. Workers, sellers and some village residents use the train frequently. The train stops at every station on the way from Giza to Fayyoum.

The accident occurred between the villages Garzah and el-Raqqah, shortly before a scheduled stop at el-Raqqah. After the collision, residents of the neighboring villages hurried to the accident’s location and made a bridge of sand and palm leafs to facilitate carrying the dead and injured. Some passengers in the trains tried to help the victims, while others began searching for another ride to their destinations.

Other villagers stopped their cars nearby and pointed their headlights at the accident to illuminate it and assist firemen and citizens in rescuing the victims.

Railway movement between Cairo and Upper-Egypt was frozen, as was traffic on the Cairo-Assiut Eastern Agricultural Road.

Citizens established a cordon around the accident location between the canal and the railway, so as to help relief workers do their job, while villagers scrambled to the area to reassure their relatives after they learned about the collusion from TV. Others headed to hospitals at el-Ayyat, Badrashin, Hawamdiya, Wasta, and Zeinhum morgue in order to search for their relatives among victims.

Rescue efforts are proceeding afoot, and are expected to continue until late tonight.
Fathy Saad, the 6th of October governor, Mohamed el-Marasy, head of 6th October’s security department, Ahmed Abdel Aal, head of 6th October’s general investigations administration, and other central security officers from the 6th of October, Giza, Beni Souef, and el-Fayoum came to help in rescue efforts. Minister of Transportation Lotfy Mansour and Minister of Health Hatem el-Gabaly arrived at 10:00 PM. Mansour and el-Gabaly were on their way to Upper Egypt but turned around to follow up on the rescue.

Speaking from the scene of the accident, Minister of Health said eight people were killed and 38 were injured in the crash. Eight already received treatment and left hospital.

Ibrahim Zaki an eyewitness from Garzah said he was at his farm, located between Garzah and el-Raqqah and saw the train suddenly stop two kilometers before it reached el-Raqqah station. Once Zaki moved closer he found that the train had hit a cow. Five minutes later another train coming from the direction hit the stopped train from behind.

He added that he hurried to the scene of the crash and saw blood dropping from the last car. The place has no lights and the people in the two villages came out for help, Zaki said.

Another eyewitness, Mahmoud Hassan, said he was on his way from Giza to Fayyoum and the train halted before it reached el-Reqqah station for no clear reason. A few minutes later, he was surprised to see a severe crash from behind and heard cries and appeals for help from the last two carriages. He discovered that two carriages had overturned due to the intensity of the crash.

Ahmed Mahran was on the train headed for Upper Egypt. He said She suddenly heard an intense crash and his train abruptly stopped. He found the train in which he was traveling had hit another. He and a large number of the train passengers helped pull bodies and the injured from the other train.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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