Those on Tuesday’s train ride were heading from impoverished villages in the south to a training facility still named ‘‘Mubarak Camp’’ on the outskirts of the capital.
Survivors described an awful 6-hour trip — even before the crash. They were crammed into the cars, sitting on the ground, squeezing multiple numbers into seats designed for two, even sitting on the baggage racks overhead. The rusting, aging cars had no electricity and were in complete darkness. Officers shouted insults and beat recruits, they said.
During the ride, ‘‘I cried hard, I thought I was going to die,’’ said el-Imam el-Araby, a 20-year-old conscript from the southern province of Sohag as he lied on a metal bed in a foul-smelling ward of Hawamdiya hospital, close to the crash site, where 99 of the injured were taken.
Officials were still investigating the cause of the crash. Survivors said the train made unusual noises during the trip and the driver stopped several times to check the cars but was ordered to continue. As it neared Badrasheen, the rear car began to shake violently.
‘‘Our car was jumping up and down and then suddenly there was something like a bomb,’’ said Hamad Mahfouz, a 20-year-old from the southern province of Assiut who was injured in his legs. ‘‘In one minute, we fell down and found ourselves on the track itself. It was like an earthquake.’’
His twin brother was killed.
‘‘When I gained my consciousness, I started calling my brother’s name,’’ he sobbed. ‘‘This is negligence. They knew that the train was broken. Why didn’t they get us buses instead of killing us? They treat us like animals.’’
Many of the wounded and dead were taken to the hospital in pickup trucks by local residents. ‘‘It took hours for the hospital to open its morgue. The cold bodies were filling the floor,’’ said Ahmed Abdel-Basit, who helped in the rescue.
Akmal Abdel-Fatah, a merchant who also helped the injured, said, ‘‘We thought the poor will harvest the fruits of the revolution but it turned against them. The poor are forgotten while the officials only serve their own interest.’’
CSF conscripts have rebelled against inhumane conditions several times in the past decades. Most notably, in 1986 they rioted for four days over rumors their term would be extended, setting hotels and nightclubs near the Pyramids on fire.
Train wrecks and other transportation disasters are common in Egypt because of outdated infrastructure, faulty maintenance and corruption. The railway’s worst disaster was in 2002, when a train heading to southern Egypt caught fire, killing 363 people.
On Tuesday, Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, quickly turned blame on Morsi, listing six train accidents since he came to power.
‘‘It is not possible anymore to suffice with promises,’’ it said in a statement. Morsi and his government ‘‘must rearrange its priorities’’ and focus on protecting Egyptians’ lives and ‘‘improving their standards of living.’’