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Dozens killed in Egyptian rail disaster

By Menna Zaki

Two passenger trains have collided just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing at least 36 people and injuring about 120.

It is the country's deadliest rail accident in more than a decade.

A statement by the Egyptian Railways Authority said a train travelling to Alexandria from Cairo crashed into the back of another train, which was waiting at a small station in the district of Khorshid, just east of Alexandria.

The statement did not specify what caused the accident, saying only that the authority's experts would be investigating.

Video footage from the scene showed mangled train coaches on the tracks as hundreds of onlookers and victims' relatives gathered around on both sides of the tracks.

Ambulances were standing by and riot police were deployed to keep onlookers away from the scene of the disaster.

Egypt's railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.

Yesterday's collision was the latest in a series of deadly accidents which have claimed hundreds of lives over the years.

Figures recently released by the State's statistics agency show that 1,249 train accidents took place last year, the highest number since 2009 when the number reached 1,577.

Friday's accident was the deadliest rail incident since 2006, when at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo. And earlier, in 2002, more than 370 died when a massive fire engulfed a train filled with local holiday travellers.

In November 2012 a speeding train crashed into a bus carrying children to their nursery in the country's south, killing more than 50. Two months later 19 people died and more than 100 were injured in a derailment south of Cairo.

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