QALYOUB, Egypt – A passenger train barreling toward a northern Egypt railway station Monday collided with a second train, killing at least 58 people and injuring 143, in the latest accident by Egypt's dilapidated third-class railway service.
Egypt's official Middle East News Agency quoted Minister of Health Hatem el-Gabaly on the death toll for the accident that occurred around 7 a.m. outside the town of Qalyoub, 12 miles north of the capital Cairo. El-Gabaly said four of the wounded were in critical condition.
The front part of one train was crumpled in, while mangled train cars from both trains lay on their sides or on the edge of a cornfield next to the train tracks.
The train from Mansoura was going at least 50 miles per hour when the collision occurred after it failed to heed a stop signal outside the Qalyoub train station, police sources said speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give statements to the media.
The driver of the Mansoura train was killed and the locomotive overturned when it crashed into the other train, which was stopped at the station, police and witnesses said.
Civil defense, police and the military worked together throughout the morning to search for survivors and recover bodies amid the crumpled and charred cars. By late afternoon, they were using cranes to remove the twisted wreckage from the tracks and unblock the key rail route.
Shoes and blood-soaked clothing littered the station's platform. A man's lifeless and bloodied forearm with a watch was visible emerging from a crushed car.
A Qalyoub resident living near the train tracks who assisted in the rescue effort and the removal of bodies from the train said that most of the passengers were men ranging in age from 20 to 50.
"I carried so many dead people, many of them were just body parts, my own clothes were soaked in blood," said Raslan Abdel-Aziz, armed forces mechanic.
About a third of the injured were taken to the Qalyoub Hospital. One passenger, Eid Mohammed Saber, said he was asleep when the trains collided. The 37-year-old police officer, whose clothes and skin were covered in blood, said he awoke to people screaming and climbing over each other to escape.
"I thought I was dying," said Saber, who said he eventually was able to climb out of one of the train's windows.
Residents of buildings overlooking the tracks from one side, provided water for survivors and sheets to cover the dead.
Egypt has a history of serious train accidents, which are usually blamed on poorly maintained equipment. Many of those incidents have occurred in the Nile Delta.
The most recent accident, in February, saw 20 people injured when two trains collided at a Nile Delta station.
Egypt's worst train disaster, in February 2002, killed 363 people, many of them headed home to the country's south for the Islamic calendar's most important holiday.