Egypt's prosecution orders detention of 4 railway staffers over train derailment accident

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Tuesday 20 Apr 2021

The train's driver and his assistant alongside a maintenance worker and a civil engineer are held in custody for 4 days pending investigations into the accident, which caused the death of 11 people and the injury of 98 others

Qalioubia train
People gather at the site where train carriages derailed in Qalioubia province, north of Cairo, Egypt April 18, 2021. REUTERS

Egypt's Public Prosecution ordered on Tuesday the detention of a driver, his assistant and two others for four days pending investigations into the deadly derailment accident of a passenger train that was on its way from Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

The accident took place on Sunday when four carriages had run off the track near Toukh city in Qalioubiya in the Nile Delta, leaving 11 people dead and 98 others wounded.

The detention order included a maintenance worker and a civil engineer, according to a statement by the prosecution, which is currently investigating various parties to identify the causes of the accident.

Initial investigations showed the accident occurred due to the slipping of wheels of a train carriage off the track, the “excessive” speed of the train, and the high temperature during the day that caused the railway bars to stretch, according to the statement.

Sunday's derailment is the second major train accident in Egypt within a month. On 26 March, a train collision in the southern governorate of Sohag killed 19 people and injured 185 others.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to form a committee to disclose the circumstances behind the incident.

The committee will include members from the Administrative Control Authority, the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, the Military Technical College, and engineering faculties.

The accidents triggered a reshuffle of the top management positions in the state-run National Railways Authority (NRA).

Egypt's railway system has had a poor safety record for decades, with deadly collisions and accidents, which are often blamed on poor maintenance and management, becoming a frequent occurrence.

Officials have repeatedly stressed that billions of pounds and several years are needed to upgrade the country’s railway network to provide better service to the public and prevent deadly accidents.

The government has been implementing ambitious multi-billion projects to replace hundreds of ailing train carriages and modernize an obsolete signaling system.

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