Ten dead, including four French and one Belgian, in a bus accident in Egypt

published on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 5:28 p.m.

Five Egyptians, four French and a Belgian died this Wednesday in a bus accident in Aswan, in the tourist south of Egypt, which is still struggling to recover from ten years of political instability and Covid-19.

According to the government, fourteen other tourists were injured – eight French and six Belgians – and all are in “stable condition” after being hospitalized for “fractures, bruises and superficial injuries.”

Early in the morning, the bus carrying them collided with a van on the long desert road that leads to the two temples of Abu Simbel.

“The two Egyptian passengers in the van were killed,” said the prosecutor’s office in the afternoon, which opened an investigation “to determine the exact circumstances of the accident and determine those responsible.”

The other three dead Egyptians were “the bus driver, his co-pilot and the tour guide” who supervised the group of Belgians and French, adds the prosecution.

Together with AFP, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the death of one of its citizens, as well as several injuries.

Traffic accidents are common in Egypt, where roads are often poorly maintained and traffic regulations are not respected.

Officially, 7,000 people lost their lives in accidents in 2020 in the most populous country in the Arab world, with 103 million inhabitants.

– Tourism in trouble –

The more than 3,000-year-old temples of Abu Simbel, which were moved from their original site to avoid being submerged by the rising waters of the Nile with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s and 1970s, are one of the the main tourist places in Egypt.

Carved into the rock on a hill overlooking the Nile in Upper Egypt, they are dedicated to Osiris and Isis and were built by one of the most famous pharaohs, Ramses II, who reigned in Egypt between 1279 and 1213 BC Jesus Christ.

Abu Simbel is one of the jewels of ancient Nubia, whose borders extended along the Nile, dividing its territory between present-day Egypt and Sudan.

But if the site has been full of tourists for a long time, now it is much less frequented.

After years of political instability in the wake of the 2011 popular uprising, which dealt a major blow to the key tourism sector, Egypt had barely managed to attract visitors in 2019, particularly by promoting its ancient heritage.

But in 2020, with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, income from tourism, which employs two million Egyptians and generates more than 10% of GDP, plummeted from thirteen to four billion dollars.

In August 2021, Russia resumed flights interrupted for six years after a deadly accident, reinvigorating the sector at half-staff.

– Accidents –

But the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army brutally slowed the recovery, while its two countries accounted for 40% of tourist arrivals in Egypt until the war, mainly through the Red Sea.

The French and Belgians, on the other hand, are the first contingents of visitors to the pharaonic sites of Luxor and Aswan.

The regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, which wants to present itself as a model of stability in a Middle East torn by violence, very regularly organizes visits by diplomats, bloggers and other influencers to restore its tourist image.

Cairo has even abolished visas for several dozen new nationalities since the beginning of April.

If the attacks on tourists, bloody in the 1990s, have largely weakened, accidents occur regularly.

In Luxor, ancient Thebes containing the tomb of the famous pharaoh Tutankhamun, in the Valley of the Kings, 250 km north of Aswan, a German tourist and two Egyptian girls were killed in a building collapse in a residential neighborhood in February 2019.

And in May 2020, an attack targeted the Giza pyramids, southwest of Cairo, injuring 17 a month before the start of the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in the country.

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