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47 children die in Egypt crash

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Distraught Egyptians search for signs of their loved ones in the wreckage of a train crash near Assiut in the south of the country on Saturday.— Photo: AP
Distraught Egyptians search for signs of their loved ones in the wreckage of a train crash near Assiut in the south of the country on Saturday.— Photo: AP

At least 47 nursery schoolchildren were killed on Saturday when a train smashed into their bus in central Egypt after a railway signal operator fell asleep, officials said, prompting protests and resignations.

Transport Minister Rashad al-Metini stepped down after the tragedy, which also killed the bus driver and his assistant, saying he “accepts responsibility”. President Mohamed Morsy also accepted the Egyptian Railway Authority head’s resignation.

“There are now 49 deaths and 18 injuries”, with almost all of the casualties children, Assiut provincial Governor Yehya Keshk told state television. “There is a team of 45 doctors looking after the injured children.”

The bus taking about 60 children aged between four and six on a school trip organised by their nursery was struck on a railway crossing in Manfalut, 356 km south of Cairo, police said.

The worker manning the level crossing — which had been left open — was asleep when the bus tried to cross the tracks, Mr. Keshk said. “He has been arrested of course.”

Parents of the children were staging angry demonstrations near the scene of the horrific accident, demanding the death penalty for those responsible, police said.

A state television correspondent described the scene as “terrifying” with the blood-splattered bodies of children on the ground, before they were taken to nearby Manfalut hospital. — AFP


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