Fifty eight people have died and more than 143 were injured Monday
when one train rammed into another just out Cairo during the morning
commute to the capital.
By late afternoon, the wreckage had been removed from the track and
rail service had resumed.
But parts of bodies were still strewn across the surrounding corn
fields. Rescuers were told to burry the body parts in the sand next to the
tracks. Witnesses say it took more than an hour for the first ambulances
to arrive at the scene.
In the meantime, people from neighboring apartment buildings rushed to
pull out the injured, clawing at the wreckage with pieces of scrap metal.
"This is our Egypt," one onlooker said, asking aloud why ambulances had
not yet arrived. Some family members of the injured and deceased directed
their anger at police stationed at the tracks near the collision.
Twenty seven-year-old Sobhi Azem was on his daily commute to Cario when
the trains collided. He says he was 10 centimeters away from death and
considers himself lucky to climb out of the crumpled carriage car alive.
"People were screaming, and there was blood splashed all over" him and
body parts were everywhere." He says he saw behind him dead bodies 'piled
from the floor to the ceiling.'" He said he is only one of six people who
survived in that train car.
While visiting the injured at one of the local hospitals, Egypt's Prime
Minister Ahmed Nazif acknowledged the country's 150-year-old railway
system needs an overhaul.
Mr. Nazif says Egypt must "prevent these accidents that keep happening
in the railway industry." "The Egyptian railway needs our immediate
attention," he says, "We need to fund new compartments and we have to
improve the railroads and rail signals. We also need to provide better
training for the railway workers."
Mr. Nazif said the government would give the families of the deceased
compensation equivalent to $1,000 U.S. and $250 to the injured. He added
that this was a good compensation package, considering the price of the
train ticket was the equivalent of a nickel.
He said the government had committed $8 billion to revamping the antiquated railway.
The train collision worsens the country's already poor record of rail
safety. One of the world's worst railway accidents took place in Egypt
four years ago, when 360 people died.