At least 32 killed as two trains collide in Egypt's Sohag, rescue operations underway

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Two trains collided north of the city of Sohag in Egypt on Friday. In a statement, the Egyptian health ministry said a rescue operation has been launched and authorities are on the scene.

As many as 36 ambulances have been dispatched to the site. Casualties are being taken to hospitals, the statement from the health ministry went on to say.

Officials have confirmed the deaths of 32 passengers, according to a report by Bloomberg. Egyptian media outlets peg the number of injured persons at 66.

The report goes on to add that the collision derailed three carriages.

Crowds gathered around mangled train carriages at the scene of a train accident in southern Egypt on Friday (Photo Credits: AP)

Images of the carriages lying overturned across the track are being widely circulated on social media platforms. Some of the pictures show that the train carriages derailed above a channel of water.

"The trains collided while going at not very high speeds, which led to the destruction of two carriages and a third to overturn," news agency Reuters reported quoting a security source.

Crowds gathered around mangled train carriages at the scene of a train accident in southern Egypt on Friday (Photo Credits: AP)

Egypt's Railway Authority says the second train collided with the first from behind leading two carriages to derail.

Emergency brakes triggered by unknown persons caused the first train to halt abruptly, the Egyptian Railway Authority has said.

History of Egypt's railway system

One of the oldest in the world, Egypt's railway system has a history of badly maintained equipment and poor management.

Data from the Egyptian government indicates that 1,793 train accidents took place in 2017 across the country.

In 2017, the collision of two passenger trains just outside the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria had left 43 dead. A similar incident near Cairo in 2016 had claimed 51 lives.

The derailment of a passenger train near the southern city of Aswan in 2018 had led to several injures.

However, Egypt's deadliest train crash took place in 2002 when a train travelling from Cairo to southern Egypt caught fire, killing over 300 people.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had said in 2018 that the government lacks about USD 14.1 billion to overhaul its railway system.

(With inputs from Reuters)