Egypt sacks rail chief after string of deadly accidents

Egypt sacks rail chief after string of deadly accidents
2 min read
Transport Minister Kamel el-Wazir's shuffle of 10 top officials in Egypt's embattled railways authority, including its head Ashraf Raslan, follows a national uproar over mismanagement of dilapidated train lines.
23 people died in a train accident north of Cairo on Sunday [AFP]
Egypt's railways chief was sacked Tuesday following a string of deadly train disasters, two days after the latest accident that cost 23 lives, according to an updated toll.

Egypt's public prosecution, which provided the revised figure, said it had also "ordered the arrest of 23 people accused of involvement in the accident", citing "negligence" and a "lack of respect for laws and regulations".

Several rail carriages came off the tracks on Sunday in a farming town in the fertile Nile Delta outside the capital.

The prosecution in a statement put the number of dead at 23, up from 11 previously announced, and injured at 139 injured, up from 98.

Transport Minister Kamel el-Wazir's shuffle of 10 top officials in Egypt's embattled railways authority, including its head Ashraf Raslan, follows an uproar in the Arab world's most populous country over mismanagement of dilapidated train lines.

"The goal of these decisions is not merely about leadership changes of the authority but are in line with the next stage which demands... a complete upgrade of the railway network," the transport ministry said.

The changes "underway aim to provide better services, working around the clock to serve commuters and to upgrade... this essential service which transports millions of passengers yearly", it said in a statement.

Calls on social media have urged the minister himself to step down but he has stood firm.

Egyptian rail accidents are mostly blamed on poor infrastructure and maintenance.

Last month, at least 20 people died and nearly 200 were injured in a crash in southern Egypt, according to the latest official toll, which authorities have revised several times.

Read more: Egypt arrests eight over fatal train crash, revises death toll

Fifteen people were also injured this month when two train carriages derailed near Minya al-Qamh, north of Cairo.

Wazir, a former general, was named transport minister after a 2019 train collision that was blamed on human error.

"We have a problem with the human element," he said last month, pledging to set up an automated network by 2024.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has vowed to hold to account those responsible for the recurrent deadly accidents on Egypt's railways in recent years.

One of the deadliest came in 2002 when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital, killing 373 people.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected