The death toll from Egypt's latest train disaster rose to 41 as cranes worked today to clear the stricken railway line between Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Under floodlights, rescue teams had combed wrecked carriages all night for casualties.

The toll from yesterday's accident when two trains collided near Alexandria rose to 41 dead, the health ministry said today.

The accident also wounded 132 people, with 79 being discharged after treatment while 53 remained in hospital today, Health Minister Ahmed Emad el-Din Rady said in a statement.

A stream of ambulances had ferried the injured, stretched out on the ground in a field alongside the railway tracks, to Alexandria hospitals.

Workers used cranes to lift four knotted sheet-metal carriages blocking the normally busy Cairo-Alexandria line.

Transport ministry officials, quoted on state television, have said the crash in farmland on the outskirts of Alexandria was probably caused by a malfunction in one train that brought it to a halt.

The other train then crashed into it.

One train had been heading to Alexandria from Cairo and the other from Port Said, east along the coast.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sent his condolences to the victims' families and ordered a probe to "hold accountable" those responsible for the disaster.