SAFAGA, Egypt: A tourist bus carrying 37 Russian tourists collided with a car Wednesday on the Safaga-Luxor road, an accident that brought to light incidents of tourism bus accidents in Egypt. More than 150 tourists have died in such accidents since 2006, according to media reports.
On Wednesday, the tourist bus was en route to Luxor when a speeding car crashed into it from behind. The bus driver lost control of the steering wheel, and the bus to skid off the road.
No casualties were reported, according to authorities.
Mohamed Geidy, a bus driver from Qena who lives in Hurghada and works for the TEZ Tour company said his colleague, Sayed Salah, was driving the bus that crashed on Wednesday.
“Sayed is a good driver and it is not his fault the speeding car crashed into him from behind,” Geidy said, adding that he suspects drug use when hearing of such speed-related accidents.
Before the January 25 Revolution, tourism police required tourist bus drivers to take blood tests before renewing their driver’s licenses, he said. But due to the post-revolution turmoil and the consequent lack of security and safety, the procedure is not enforced anymore, he said.
“I am calling upon police officers at the checkpoints along tourism roads to restore random blood tests for drivers because many of them are on drugs and use Tramadol to keep them awake, particularly public minibus drivers,” he said.
Gamal Abu El-Haggag, a bus driver from Luxor who works for several Luxor-based travel agencies, said that most of the roads linking tourist attractions in Egypt are well-maintained, and tourism police often manage convoys to lead buses traveling from Safaga to Luxor.
“This road is fine and it has five active checkpoints. Police officers usually do not stop tourist buses because we leave Safaga with two security guards aboard,” he said.
But despite strict measures taken by the Ministry of Tourism to prevent tourist vehicle accidents on Egypt’s highways, tourist bus crashes continue to occur, he added.
“In 2010, the Ministry of Tourism forced travel agencies to install an apparatus in each tourist vehicle that does not allow drivers to exceed 120 km per hour. But after the revolution and due to the lack of oversight, many drivers customized the apparatus and they no longer work,” El-Haggag said.
In a 2012 report on road safety in Egypt, the World Health Organization said 12,000 people die every year in Egypt due to traffic accidents.
Egypt has a road traffic fatality rate of 42 deaths per 100,000 people, the report said. The majority (48 percent) of those killed are passengers of four-wheeler vehicles, though pedestrians also constitute a significant portion (20 percent) of the fatalities, the report said.
Tourist bus accidents in Egypt are mainly attributed either to bad road conditions or speeding. Below is a list of the most well-known accidents over the last seven years.
Twelve Arab Israelis died when a tourist bus overturned and landed upside down between Nuweiba and Taba. The survivors claimed the driver intentionally crashed the bus and that the incident was a “terrorist” attack.
May 1, 2008
A bus carrying tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Italy and Canada overturned and burst into flames in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing at least nine people and injuring 28.
October 10, 2008
Two Italian tourists died and 25 others were injured in Egypt’s northern coast city of El Alamein after their tour bus overturned due to heavy rains.
October 26, 2010
Eight American tourists were killed and 21 others were injured following a bus crash with a truck in Upper Egypt.
Nov. 7, 2011
A bus accident in Hurghada left 11 Hungarian tourists dead and at least 30 injured. The bus flipped over after the driver took a sharp turn while en route to the Hurghada International Airport.
Oct. 25, 2012
An Austrian tourist died and seven people were injured in a bus crash on Aswan-Abu Simbel Road. The bus overturned several times before it crashed into a sandy rock.
Jan. 10, 2013
On their way to Saint Catherine International Airport, four French tourists were injured when their bus overturned due to heavy winds.
Feb. 3, 2013
Seven people died and 38 were injured when a tourist bus overturned in the rugged area of Abu Zenima on the Sharm el-Sheikh-Cairo road.
May 4, 2013
One Chinese tourist and 13 others were injured when a bus transporting them from Aswan to Abu Simbel overturned. Initial investigations attributed the accident to speeding.
May 31, 2013
Six Mexican tourists were killed and 25 were injured in South Sinai while traveling in a tourist bus from Saint Catherine’s Monastery to the Red Sea resort of Dahab. The accident occurred due to high-speed driving.
Oct. 21, 2013
A tourist bus heading from Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh flipped, killing six people and injuring 25.