More than two dozen people, mostly wedding guests, have been killed in Egypt as a goods train, a minibus and a truck collided in the desert in the middle of the night.
The health ministry put the number of dead at 27. More than 30 were injured in the crash, which happened 45 kilometres south of Cairo.
The train, coming from Aswan and passing through Bani Swaif, crashed at a crossing near the Giza district, state media said.
Egypt’s rail company blamed the bus and lorry drivers, saying they ignored signals and barriers.
The driver of the train was caught by surprise when the minibus and pick-up truck stormed onto the crossing, Hussein Zakariya, head of Egypt’s railway authority was quoted as saying.
One man at the scene, who told euronews he witnessed the crash, disagrees.
“The truck was driving normally, the guard wasn’t there, the alarm bell wasn’t working, the red light wasn’t working either, and the train came and rammed both lorry and minibus,” he said.
Such was the impact that the bus was dragged for more than a kilometre along the track by the goods train, which was reportedly travelling at full speed.
Police, who have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, said most of the victims came from the same family and were on their way home from a wedding. A three-year-old girl was reported to be among the dead.
Euronews Cairo correspondent Mohammed Shaikhibrahim said from the scene: “Failure to comply with safety guidelines, including failure to carry out regular maintenance, are among the main causes of train crashes here in Egypt – which is why people in this region call them “death trains”.
The crash could spark protests among Egyptians who have long complained that successive governments have failed to enforce even basic safeguards, leading to a string of deadly accidents.
Egypt’s military-backed interim government, appointed after the army ousted President Mohamed Mursi in July, announced plans to improve transport as part of a stimulus package worth 3.18 billion euros.