CAIRO — Five more people were arrested in relation to a deadly locomotive crash last week at the Egyptian capital’s main railway station that killed at least 25 people and led to the transportation minister’s resignation, authorities said.
In all, 11 people have been detained in relation to the Feb. 27 crash, which injured at least 47 others when an unmanned locomotive slammed into a barrier inside Cairo’s busy Ramses station, triggering a huge explosion and fire. Authorities had previously ruled out terrorism.
The detainees face charges of manslaughter and damaging public property, Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek said in a statement late Tuesday. Thirty-eight railway officials have been questioned.
An investigation determined the locomotive was left unattended after its engineer got into an argument with another driver and left the controls without applying the brakes. The engine began moving down the track, picking up a speed of 120 kph (75 mph) before slamming into a barrier and exploding.
Many Egyptians expressed their outrage on social media following the crash. Some blamed President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government for not improving railway services in Egypt, even after a series of deadly accidents.
The government says it is working on a costly plan to overhaul the antiquated network, buying train cars from European and U.S. manufacturers and striking partnerships to automate the system and develop a domestic railcar industry.
Emad Nabil, a railway expert, said the whole system needs to be modernized after decades of poor maintenance. “The network is mostly operated manually, causing lots of accidents which could be avoided,” he said.
Following a deadly train accident in March last year that killed at least 12, el-Sissi said the government lacks about 250 billion Egyptian pounds ($14.1 billion) to overhaul the rail system. Fares have been heavily subsidized for decades.
Egypt’s deadliest train accident took place in 2002 when over 370 people were killed after fire engulfed a crowded train leaving the capital for a religious holiday.
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