Feature: Residents near Egypt's tragic train crash site help rescue victims

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-13 03:20:20|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Mahmoud Fouly

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- "When we heard the collision, we ran toward the accident scene and rescued as many as we could until the rescuers arrived," said Saeed Ramadan, a 45-year-old man from Ezbet Khorshid neighborhood in Egypt's northern coastal city of Alexandria.

Ramadan, a laboratory technician, is one of dozens of residents who hurried to rescue victims of the two-train collision that took place on Friday afternoon, leaving at least 49 dead and more than 130 injured in the seaside city.

"We learned that a train was motionless when another hit it from behind," the man told Xinhua near the wreckage. "We had already moved many victims near this platform when the ambulances later picked up many of the seriously injured people."

Since the afternoon until the early hours of Saturday morning, rescuers and residents have been searching for bodies and survivors of the massive tragedy, while security forces and military police personnel heavily cordoned off the collision area.

Ahmed Nabil, a young man in his late 20s, said he was coming back from work and just passed by the stopping train when he heard a bang that almost shook the ground beneath his feet.

"I also heard weeping and screaming. My fellow villagers and I ran toward the train and we rescued many people and picked up many bodies," Nabil narrated, noting that the accident happened at around 2:10 p.m. local time.

Immediately following the crash in Alexandria, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi instructed state bodies to bring those responsible to account, ordering a thorough investigation into the cause of the collision.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry said the two drivers of the twin trains have been held for questioning and four railway officials suspended over the tragedy.

Later on Saturday, the top prosecutor assigned a military engineering body to perform an on-the-spot technical railway check to examine the soundness of the railroad, the traffic light signals and semaphores and to issue a report on the tragic accident.

Most of the victims and the wounded passengers have been transferred to nearby hospitals in Ezbet Khorshid and surrounding towns, while the government ordered 50,000 Egyptian pounds (about 2,800 U.S. dollars) for the family members of each dead person.

Walid Ali, 32, an electrician from the nearby neighborhood, said he saw over 25 children scattered on the ground just after the first crash, "besides a large number of deaths inside the train and dozens of wounded people."

"The victims on the ground were countless," said Abdel-Rahman Ismail, a teen student living in the area.

He stressed that the residents of Ezbet Khorshid neighborhood spared no effort to rescue and shelter the victims.

"All the residents of the village brought their private cars and covered them with sheets and moved them therein," the student told Xinhua.

Over the past 15 years, Egypt has witnessed several deadly railway crashes that have signalled poor railway conditions and lack of necessary railroad maintenance.

The worst train accident in the country took place at Giza's district of Ayyat in 2002, which killed 350 passengers when fire broke out in a train from Upper Egypt, forcing passengers to hopelessly jump out to survive.

Another train tragedy hit the country 10 years later in November 2012, when a train hit a school bus at a crossing barrier area in Upper Egypt's Assiut Province, killing over 50 children.