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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 13:27 GMT
Egypt's history of train disasters
Rescuers take body away from train fire scene
As in many developing countries, rail safety is not well funded
The train accident in which at least 300 people died while travelling from Cairo to the south of Egypt is by a long way the worst train disaster in 150 years of rail travel in the country.

This accident was caused by a fire, possibly started by a passenger - and not a crash.

Rescuer walks past the burned out train
One thoery is that the fire could have been started by a passenger preparing food
Egypt has a comprehensive rail network. There is a high standard rail service available to tourists and Egyptians who can afford it.

However, most Egyptian rail passenger travel packed into cramped compartments on old, slow trains.

Passengers on long-haul journeys often carry large amounts of baggage, take small animals onto the trains and prepare their own meals - sometimes using portable gas cookers.

Recent Egyptian train disasters:

  • November 1999: Train between Cairo and Alexandria hits truck and derails, killing 10 and injuring seven.

  • April 1999: At least 10 people die and nearly 50 are injured in northern Egypt after head on collision between trains.

  • October 1998: About 50 people are killed and more than 80 injured in a derailment just south of Alexandria. The train failed to stop at buffers and ran into a busy market square. Reports suggested that passengers travelling on the roof of the train may have tampered with an air pipe, disabling the brakes

  • February 1997: At least 11 people die after a collision caused by human error and a signalling failure north of Aswan.

  • February 1996: Train hits truck on level crossing killing 11 people 90 kilometres north of Cairo.

  • December 1995: In thick fog a train rams into the back of another, 75 people die. Driver was blamed after findings that the train was travelling well above the speed limit

  • May 1995: Nine die after train hits a barrier just north of Cairo and derails.

  • April 1995: A train and a bus collide on a level crossing in Nile Delta, killing 49.

  • December 1993: At least 12 people die and 60 are injured when two trains collide head on about 90 kilometres north of Cairo.

  • February 1992: Head on train collision just outside Cairo kills 43 people.

See also:

20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Survivors tell of Egyptian train horror
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Egypt
05 Feb 02 | Business
Egypt calls for aid
24 Oct 01 | Middle East
14 children dead in Egypt bus plunge
20 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Factory fire kills 15 in Egypt
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