At least 47 children aged between four to six years old have been killed as a train crashed into a school bus at a rail-crossing tracks in a city south of Cairo early on Saturday morning.
The bus was carrying about 60 children from a nursery school when it was hit by the train near Manfalut, 350km (230 miles) south of Cairo. The bus was dragged on for more half a Kilometer. Mutilated bodies of the children littered the area with families scouting the area to pick up their pieces.
Following the accident, the Egyptian transport minister has resigned. State media reported that the investigation into the accident has commenced.
Reports from witnesses say the barriers of the railway crossing were opened when the bus approached them with signal giving way to vehicle at the crossing.
“The deaths have now reached 47. There are 13 children injured,” Assiut state governor Yehya Keshk told state television.
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi ordered his ministers to offer support to the families of those killed, the state news agency reported.
“They told us the barriers were open when the bus crossed the tracks and the train collided with it,” doctor Mohamed Samir told the Reuters news agency, citing witness accounts.
The head of the state railway authority has also resigned.
Distraught families are searching for the remains of their loved ones along the tracks, the Associated Press reports.
Egypt’s roads and railways have a poor safety record. An estimated 8,000 people die in car accidents each year in the country.
A senior security official in Assiut, near the crash site, said 44 of the dead were children, aged around four to eight. Two women and a man, who was probably the bus driver, also died, he added.
The state news agency said another 13 people were injured. A medical source said as many as 28 were injured, 27 of them children.
Egypt’s roads and railways have a poor safety record and Egyptians have long complained successive governments have failed to enforce basic safety standards, leading to a string of deadly accidents.
“They told us the barriers were open when the bus crossed the tracks and the train collided with it,” said Mohamed Samir, a doctor at Assiut hospital where the injured were taken, citing witness accounts.
He said the bodies of many of those killed were severely mutilated, indicating the force of the crash, which took place in the city of Manfalut, near Assiut, about 300 km (190 miles) south of the capital.
“I saw the train collide with the bus and push it about 1 km (half a mile) along the track,” said Ahmed Youssef, a driver.
Another witness also said the train hit the bus with great force, smashing up the bodies.
Transport Minister Mohamed Rashad offered his resignation, which President Mohamed Mursi was considering, state media reported.