Egypt’s prosecutor-general orders testing train drivers in Sohag's deadly collision for drugs

Ahram Online , Saturday 27 Mar 2021

The train crash rendered at least 32 people dead and 165 injured

People inspect the damage after two trains collided near the city of Sohag, Egypt, March 26, 2021. REUTERS

Egypt's Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy ordered on late Friday a set of measures to investigate the train collision in Upper Egypt’s Sohag that rendered at least 32 people dead and 165 injured.

The two train drivers, their assistants, the control tower's worker, and the railway crossing operator will be questioned and tested for drugs, according to an official statement.

Their mobile phones were seized to examine their call logs, the statement added.

El-Sawy also ordered that officials from the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) be summoned for questioning.

The memory cards of the main control unit of the two trains, control tower, as well as data storage units of cameras installed on the railway slides, houses, and facilities overlooking the scene were also ordered seized.

El-Sawy has formed a five-member committee comprising members from the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces and the Advisory Office of the Military Technical College, alongside a member from the Administrative Control Authority to inspect the two trains and the validity of their safety devices.

The prosecutor-general's statement came hours after he had arrived with a team of prosecutors to open an investigation into the deadly collision.

On Friday, two trains collided in the Tahta district in Sohag governorate, killing at least 32 people and injuring 165 despite a recent mega-plan by the state to develop the oldest and biggest railway network in the region.

The transportation ministry said hours after the incident that the collision occurred after “an emergency brake in some carriages [of Train 157 Luxor-Alexandria] was activated by unknown individuals," forcing the Luxor-Alexandria train to come to a sudden stop only to be hit from behind by an incoming train, Train 709 Aswan-Cairo.

The collision caused two carriages from the Luxor-Alexandria train and the tractor of the Aswan-Cairo train to derail and flip over, leading to the casualties, the transportation ministry added.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has vowed “deterrent punishment” over the collision, stressing his determination to end a “pattern of such disasters."

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly vowed that the government will continue to upgrade railway projects to prevent deadly train accidents.

However, he warned that similar accidents might occur until the government completes the overhauling of the railway system.  

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