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Last Updated: Monday, 21 August 2006, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Scores die in Egypt train crash
People try to find survivors in the wreckage of the train collision in Qalyoub, Egypt
Carriages crumpled like an accordion, witnesses said
At least 58 people have been killed and nearly 150 injured in Egypt in a collision between two rush-hour trains packed with commuters.

A railway official said one train ploughed into another which had stopped just outside a station in Qalyoub, 20km (12 miles) from Cairo.

Carriages were derailed and overturned, and one train was set ablaze.

It is Egypt's deadliest rail accident since 2002 when a fire broke out on a train, killing more than 370 people.

Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali, quoted by the official Mena news agency, said 58 people had died and more than 143 were injured.

We felt something like an earthquake, we jumped out the windows and saw fire at the back of the train
Train passenger

The trains were both travelling from the Nile Delta south towards Cairo, crowded with many passengers on their usual commute to work in the capital.

An investigation into what happened is now under way, but Mena reported that the head of the state railway authority was blaming "human error".

Reports suggested one of the trains failed to heed a stop signal outside Qalyoub train station.

The train rammed into the back of the other which had stopped on the line, causing carriages to overturn and catch fire.

One witness told Reuters news agency how bystanders had tried to warn the driver of the stationary train that another train was bearing down on him.

"We kept saying 'Driver, driver, a train is coming' so the driver moved... and while he was moving, the two trains impacted."

The trains were travelling from the towns of Mansurah, 130km (80 miles) away, and Benha, 50km (30 miles) from the capital, and were on the same line.

"I was in the train from Benha which had stopped for five minutes. Suddenly we felt something like an earthquake, we jumped out the windows and we saw fire at the back of the train," one passenger told the AFP news agency.

Blood donations

The collision, which happened at about 0745 (0445 GMT), woke local residents and brought people rushing to the tracks to help.

Egypt map

"A loud crash woke me from sleep. One of the trains had derailed and people were scattered on the floor. I called the authorities and they told me I was crazy," Osama Abdul Haleem told Reuters.

More than 20 ambulances went to the scene, while hundreds of anxious people converged on Qalyoub seeking news of relatives.

Security forces formed a cordon to keep the crowds at bay, while officials used loudhailers to appeal for blood donations. Officials also said families of the dead would receive an emergency payment of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($870).

Egypt has a poor record of train safety, with several fatal accidents each year.

The transport minister, who took office a few months ago, had previously said that Egypt's railways needed massive investment in rolling stock and signalling equipment, the BBC's Heba Saleh reports from Cairo.

The worst accident by far happened in 2002, when a fire on a train travelling south from Cairo left 373 people dead.

Officials said a gas stove being used by a passenger on board the packed train started the fire.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage from the train crash scene



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Egypt train collision
21 Aug 06 |  In Pictures
Egypt's history of train disasters
21 Aug 06 |  Middle East
Stove blamed for Egypt train inferno
20 Feb 02 |  Middle East
Country profile: Egypt
27 Jun 06 |  Country profiles

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