See update at bottom of story (7 p.m. ET).
CAIRO — A passenger train slammed into a bus at a station on Egypt’s western coast Thursday, sending both vehicles careening into a bridge and killing at least 11 people and injuring 43, authorities said.
News of the accident in Kharga, some 60 miles south of the capital Cairo, prompted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to issue a statement condemning all traffic accidents and vowing to punish those behind the crash. The statement from his office did not say whether he was in the country when the crash happened.
In the statement, el-Sissi said the accident was the second “as a result of irresponsible driving” within a week.
“This increasing frequency reflects the failure of the last years to address the real causes of traffic accidents,” he said.
The Egyptian presidency did not specify what those causes were, but state TV said investigations have shown that the bus drivers were over the legal limit of four passengers per vehicle.
Another provincial authority, the Northern Security Provinces Headquarters, gave a death toll of 11 and said 45 people were injured.
Those killed were believed to be people on the bus, Egyptian health ministry official Mohammed Sultan told reporters at the scene. Most of the injured were believed to be from the bus.
Images from the scene showed one of the trains punctured by the impact of the crash and heavily damaged sides. Blackened cars could be seen at the station and several people helped out of the wreckage with blood on their faces.
Egypt’s statistics body, CAPMAS, said the passenger train appeared to have hit the bus head-on.
Train tracks in Egypt are notoriously dangerous, especially around stations. The vast country has some of the most modern transportation infrastructure in the Arab world but many parts lack the maintenance that keep trains on time and equipment in proper working order.
El-Sissi’s office called the crash the latest example of the “stumbling block” that prevents Egypt from developing and growing as rapidly as other countries in the Middle East.
“More than 90 per cent of the public transportation in Egypt is outdated and badly maintained. This requires the complete overhaul and modernization of the whole system,” the presidency said.
“The continuation of these recurring traffic accidents reflects an overwhelming state of negligence,” it said.
Egypt has seen a string of deadly train accidents, particularly in recent years, often blamed on negligence.
For nearly a year, authorities have been trying to stop buses from picking up passengers at a few stations on the outskirts of Cairo by making it impossible for them to pick up passengers from those stations alone.
In January, a train derailed near Cairo, killing 48 people.
In May 2017, two commuter trains collided in the Nile Delta region, killing 44 people.
In 2013, nearly 50 people were killed and 800 were injured in a train accident in western Egypt. The government then promised to fast-track upgrading railway infrastructure. That plan was halted in 2014 when el-Sissi led a military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Since then, only one important station in central Cairo has been renovated and modernized.