Train hits Egypt school bus leaving 47 dead including 44 nursery school children
A speeding train has crashed into a bus carrying kindergarteners to their school in a city south of Cairo, killing at least 47, of which 44 were children.
The bus was carrying around 60 children aged between four and six earlier today when it crossed tracks and was hit near the village of al-Mandara in the Manfaloot district of the Assiut province.
Distraught families searched for signs of their loved ones along the tracks and angry villagers berated officials in the aftermath of the latest disaster to hit the country’s railway system.
Search for survivors: Distraught Egyptians look for signs of their loved ones in the wreckage of the train crash that killed at least 47 people, most of them children
The aftermath: Egyptians gather at the scene of the train crash in the Assiut province in southern Egypt
A security official said it seems the railroad crossing was not closed as the train sped toward it, leading to the crash about 300 km (190 miles) south of the capital.
Accidents traced to negligence regularly left scores dead during the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was accused of valuing loyalty over competence in many appointments of senior officials.
This is the worst such tragedy since the country’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, took power this summer.
Books, school bags and children’s socks were strewn along the tracks near the mangled bus. Parents of the missing wailed as they looked for signs of their children.
People are seen walking on train tracks after the crash, which left at least 44 children dead
Chaos: A man sifts through books and school bags that were strewn along the tracks following the crash
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said many of the remains were unrecognisable.
A woman who called herself Um Ibrahim, a mother of three, was pulling her hair in distress. ‘My children! I didn’t feed you before you left,’ she wailed.
One witness said the train pushed the bus along the tracks for nearly a kilometer (half mile).
As one man picked up a body part he screamed: ‘Only God can help!’
Two hospital officials said between seven and 11 wounded people were being treated in two different facilities, many with severed limbs.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on badly maintained equipment and poor management.
The railway’s worst disaster took place in February 2002 when a train heading to southern Egypt caught fire, killing 363 people.
Media reports quoted official statistics saying that the rail and road accidents claimed more than 7,000 lives in 2010.
An overview of Asyut in the Assiut district of Egypt and around 190 miles south of Cairo, near to where the crash occurred
Southern province: An overview of Asyut downtown, which is in the Assiut district near to where the crash happened
The state news agency MENA reported that Transport Minister Rashad el-Meteeni offered his resignation to President Morsi.
The agency said Morsi ordered an investigation into the accident and said those responsible would be held accountable, and that Prime Minister Hesham Kandil and the interior minister were headed to the scene of the accident.
The chief of the state-run rail authority, Mustafa Qenawi, is also said to have resigned.
In al-Mandara village, along the tracks, angry families and locals gathered around the scene of the traffic, shouting at officials. Some chanted: ‘Down with Morsi!’
Sheik Mohammed Hassan, a villager, said the government should be paying more attention to its domestic problems instead of focusing its attention to the violence in neighboring Gaza.
‘The blood of people in Assiut is more important than Gaza,’ he said.
While official reports said 47 children had died, a doctor at a hospital in Assiut said the death toll was 38, among them 37 young children.
‘They told us the barriers were open when the bus crossed the tracks and the train collided with it,’ doctor Mohamed Samir said, citing witness accounts.
He said four children and two women had been seriously injured in the accident.