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Egypt's transport minister sacks head of railways authority

People gather around the wreckage of two trains that collided in the Tahta district of Sohag province, some 460 kilometres (285 miles) south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, reportedly killing at least 19 people and injuring scores of others, on March 26, 2021 [AFP via Getty Images]
People gather around the wreckage of two trains that collided in the Tahta district of Sohag province, some 460 kilometres (285 miles) south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, reportedly killing at least 19 people and injuring scores of others, on March 26, 2021 [AFP via Getty Images]

Egypt's transport minister has sacked the head of the Railways Authority Ashraf Raslan following a train crash on Sunday which killed 23.

The train was heading from the capital Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura when four carriages derailed.

The public prosecution said that it has ordered that 23 other people be arrested following negligence, lack of respect for laws, and involvement in the accident.

The crash over the weekend was the latest in a string of accidents that have occurred over the past several weeks.

Over 23 days there were five train crashes, beginning with two trains colliding in Sohag on 26 March which killed over 30 people.

Authorities later revised the death toll, saying that 19 people had died, and raised the number of injured to 185.

READ: MPs demand Egypt's transport minister be held accountable for train crash

On 2 April six carriages disconnected from a train heading from Cairo to Aswan and then two weeks later the rear carriage of a train in Sharqia Governorate separated wounding 15 people.

Just days later two cars separated from a train travelling from Alexandria to Luxor.

Pressure has intensified on the government to hold Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir himself to account with social media users calling on him to take responsibility and stand down.

However, he has refused to do so and instead dismissed the railways chief amid a reshuffle of 10 top officials in the railways' authority.

Last week there was an outcry after authorities blamed the Sohag crash on junior employees they said were high on drugs at the time of the accident.

Al-Wazir is a former army general who has the support of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and has publicly said that he will not stand down.

Critics have blamed continued accidents on corruption in the ruling party and the government's failure to invest in the dilapidated railway tracks which could have saved thousands of lives.

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