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Egypt nursery school bus-train collision toll hits 50

Cairo, Nov 18 (): A speeding train has crashed into a nursery school bus carrying children to their kindergarten in southern Egypt, killing at least 50, officials said. All but two of the dead were children, aged around four to eight, said a senior security official in Assiut, near the site.

The bus was carrying about 60 children, most between 4 and 6 years old. Gates at the rail road crossing had been left open, it was claimed. Following the impact, the bus was pushed to one kilometre by the speeding train. Most of the bodies recovered from the accident site were found to be badly damaged.

School bags, socks and books of the kids in the school bus were scattered along the rail tracks near the crushed bus. Parents of the missing children screamed as they searched for the signs of their children. A reporter at the spot said most of the remains were unrecognisable.

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has offered condolences to the families of the children. He said, “On behalf of the Egyptian people, I offer my condolences to family of dead and hope for fast recovery for the injured.”

Earlier the prime minister ordered the health and defence ministers and governor of Assiut “to provide all help to the families of the victims,” the official news agency MENA said.

A latest press statement from Railway Authority said the bus driver drove over the crossing even though the warning sirens and lights were on, in full view of the guard and a traffic policeman.

Earlier this month, at least five Egyptians were dead and 30 others were injured when two trains crashed with each other in the Faiyum governorate, 85 km south of the capital Cairo.

The most horrible train accident in the history of Egypt in 150-years was caused in Feb 2002 by fire, leaving more than 300 people killed.

Often in Egypt, trains are overcrowded, particularly in the lower-paying carriages, adding to the safety hazard.