At least 44 people were killed and nearly 180 others injured after two trains collided near Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria, officials said on Saturday.
The Egyptian cabinet said in a statement that the number of deaths may increase and the final toll will be announced after clearing the debris of the two trains.
The deadly collision took place on Friday after a train travelling to Alexandria from Cairo, crashed into the back of another train coming from the canal city of Port Said, which was waiting at a small station in the district of Khorshid, east of Alexandria, the Egyptian Railways Authority said in a statement.
The area of the collision has been cordoned-off by security forces as a rescue team is currently searching for survivors over the night and removing the wreckage off the tracks, it said.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered an inquiry into the crash, which left bodies strewn on the ground as rescue teams worked to pull the dead and injured from the wrecked carriages.
The collision at 2:15 pm (1215 GMT), near Khorshid station at the edge of Alexandria, derailed the engine of one train and two cars of the other, the Egyptian Railway Authority said.
A railroad switching error was the most likely cause, a security source said without giving further details.
Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said “human error” led to the collision, but did not elaborate.
“In order to avoid it, we have to develop the infrastructure,” he told state television. A project was under way to improve the area's facilities, but such plans took time and money, he said.
One resident, Hoda, was standing on her rooftop when she saw the trains plough into each other. “They rose in the air forming a pyramid when they collided,” she said. “I started to scream from the rooftops for people to grab some sheets and run.”
“The train I was riding was going very quickly,” said passenger Moumen Youssef. “I found myself on the floor. When we came out, we found four train cars crushed and a lot of people on the ground.”
Egyptians have long complained that successive governments failed to enforce basic safeguards for the railways.
A string of crashes have further inflamed public anger over the antiquated transport network.
In Egypt's worst train disaster, a fire tore through seven carriages of an overcrowded passenger train in 2002, killing at least 360 people.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)
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