CAIRO (AFP) – Dozens of nursery school children were among 49 people killed on Saturday when a train ploughed into their bus in central Egypt, officials said, prompting angry protests and resignations.
“There are now 49 deaths and 18 injuries,” with almost all of the casualties children, Assiut provincial governor Yehya Keshk told state television.
The bus taking 60 children aged between four and six on a school trip organised by their nursery was struck on a railway crossing in Manfalut, 356 kilometres (220 miles) 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, 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.
President Mohamed Morsi has ordered the prime minister, the defence and health ministers and the Assiut governor “to offer all assistance to the families of the victims,” the official news agency MENA said.