A passenger train smashed into the back of another train outside the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Friday afternoon. More than 40 people died and about 120 others were injured, according to news reports citing Egypt’s health ministry.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, has summoned railway officials for questioning, and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has ordered the formation of a task force to investigate the incident.
Egyptian media, citing the country’s Railways Authority, report that a train headed from the capital, Cairo, rear-ended another train that had been sitting near a station east of Alexandria.
“They rose in the air forming a pyramid when they collided,” one witness told Reuters. “I started to scream from the rooftops for people to grab some sheets and run.”
The Guardian notes it has been nearly four years since Egypt has seen a train accident as deadly as the one that occurred Friday: Not since November 2013, when a collision between a bus and a train killed 27 people, has the notoriously dangerous railway system experienced a tragedy of this magnitude.
But The Associated Press reports accidents are far from uncommon, noting that 1,249 accidents happened last year alone:
“Earlier, in 2002, a massive fire engulfed a train filled with local holiday travelers. The train sped for miles, with flames engulfing one carriage after another, killing more than 370 people.
“In November 2012, a speeding train crashed into a bus carrying Egyptian children to their kindergarten in the country’s south, killing more than 50 — mostly children between the ages of four and six. Two months later, at least 19 people died and more than 100 were injured in a train derailment south of Cairo.”