Five dead, more injured in train crash near Tunis
TUNIS - At least five people were killed and more than 50 injured on Wednesday when a train slammed into a public bus before dawn near Tunis, the Tunisian interior ministry said.
The articulated bus was torn in two when it was struck on the tracks at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) near Sidi Fathallah, some 10 kilometres (six miles) south of the capital.
Five people including a child were killed and another 52 were taken to hospital, many with serious injuries, the ministry said.
Among the injured were eight soldiers, Mosaique FM radio station reported.
A local court official said signals and safety gates had been out of service at the time of the crash.
"This failure is at the root of the collision," Moez Bouraoui, a court spokesman from Ben Arous south of the capital, told Mosaique FM.
The national railway company said it had begun an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
President Beji Caid Essebsi visited some of the injured at the Ben Arous hospital.
"I have been told that the signals have not been working for more than 15 days," Essebsi said.
"This is not normal... we must put an end to laziness, it is everyone's responsibility."
Transport Minister Anis Ghedira called for new measures against the destruction and theft of safety barriers.
"We must organise awareness campaigns on the importance of this equipment that protects lives," he said.
Authorities in Tunisia have called for greater caution on the roads following accidents including a collision between a bus and a lorry in August that killed 16 people and injured 85.
A 2015 World Health Organization report said Tunisia had the second worst traffic death rate per capita in North Africa, behind war-torn Libya.
Tunisia logged 24.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data from previous years, fewer than Libya's 73.4 but far more than 2.9 in Britain.