Egypt train crashes into minibus, kills 27: officials

The death toll from a rail accident when a train ploughed into a truck and a minibus at a crossing early Monday has risen to 27, according to Giza investigations chief Major General Mohamed Farouq.

AFP previously reported 26 dead, citing Health Ministry officials.

Another 28 people were injured in the accident, which happened south of Cairo.

Ahmed al-Ansary, emergency services chief, said 26 injured were transferred to Haram Hospital, while another two were transferred to Om al-Masriyeen Hospital in Giza.

Local police chief Kamal al-Dali told state television the minibus had been carrying guests home from a wedding.

The head of the Egyptian Railway Authority said the drivers of the vehicles had ignored warning lights and chains blocking entry to the crossing, and tried to go across the tracks.

"The bus stormed the crossing, according to initial reports," Hussein Zakaria told state television.

"The crossing was closed with chains, [and] there were warning lights," he said.

The train, whose driver survived the crash, continued for almost one kilometre before coming to a halt, he said.

However Transport Ministry sources have disclosed intentions to sack the head of Egypt's railway authority after preliminary investigations showed the level crossing was in fact open.

Transportation Minister Ibrahim al-Demeiry has meanwhile ordered the formation of a committee to inspect the accident in cooperation with prosecutors, following his visit to Dahshour level crossing, some 40 kilometers away from Cairo.

Demeiry also instructed compensation packages – consisting of LE15,000 to the families of the deceased and LE5,000 to injured passengers' families – to be delivered to those affected by the crash. 

Egypt's rail network has a poor safety record stemming largely from lack of maintenance and poor management.

In January, 17 people died when a train transporting conscripts derailed, and in November 2012, 47 school children were killed when a train crashed into their bus.

Both the transport minister and the railway authority head were forced to resign as a result of that accident, which was blamed on a train signal operator who fell asleep on the job.

The government formed a panel to investigate, but as with similar tragedies in the past, it did little to shed light on the details and less still to bring about accountability.

In Egypt's deadliest railway tragedy, the bodies of more than 360 passengers were recovered from a train after a fire in 2002.

Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to deal with chronic transport problems, with roads as poorly maintained as railway lines.

Monday's accident took place days after train services resumed completely across the country, after they were halted due to unrest following the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsy in July.

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