Cairo: Neither the driver nor the assistant of an Egyptian train that crashed at speed into another last month were at the controls during the deadly accident, the country’s prosecutor said Sunday.
At least 20 people died and 199 were injured in the March 26 crash near Sohag in southern Egypt, according to the authorities’ latest count.
An initial death toll of 32, announced on the day of the crash, has been corrected several times since by authorities, to 19, then 18 and now 20. According to an investigative report cited by the prosecutor on Sunday, the driver and his assistant “were not in the driver’s cabin” at the time of the crash, “contrary to their claims”.
The country has suffered several deadly train accidents in recent years.
Egypt’s Transport Minister Kamel Al Wazir - a former general named to the post after a deadly 2019 collision - had already blamed last month’s crash on “human” error.
He has pledged to put in a place an automated network by 2024.
President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has pledged to hold those responsible for the crash to account.
At least eight people, including the driver and assistant cited above, were arrested shortly after the crash.
Video images caught on a surveillance camera and seen by AFP show the train hitting the other at speed, sending one carriage high into the air, in an immense cloud of dust.
The accident happened in the village of Samaa Gharb, 460 kilometres south of Cairo.