A bus accident in Egypt has claimed the lives of dozens of young children. The crash has prompted the transport minister to resign, according to state media.
At least 49 Egyptian schoolchildren were killed when a train crashed into their bus in a city south of Cairo, according to the official state news agency, MENA.
"They told us the barriers were open when the bus crossed the tracks and the train collided with it," doctor Mohamed Samir said of the accident, which occurred in the city of Manfalut, in Assiut province.
Officials say the bus, which was carrying around 60 children aged between four and six on a nursery trip, crossed onto train tracks after a railway signal operator fell asleep.
The bus was broken in half by the force of the crash. The train dragged it for nearly a kilometer after the initial collision.
Transport Minister Rashad al-Metini and the chief of the Egyptian Railway Authority resigned following the accident, according to state media.
President Mohamed Morsi also instructed the prime minister, the ministers of defense and health and Assiut's governor "to offer all the assistance to the families of the victims," according to MENA.
Prime Minister Hisham Kandil traveled to the area of the accident to review the incident, but was met with anger by the local population.
"We won't accept any officials in the village," said Alaa Ahmed from al-Hawatka, where some children killed on the bus came from. "They only want to come to appear in the media."
Some parents blocked the rail line with burning tires.
"We will not clear the railway line until we get justice for our children," said resident Mustafa Abuloyun to the AFP news agency. "This is not the first accident to happen here."
Egypt's road and rail transport systems have a bad record for safety and governments have consistently failed to enforce safety standards.
sej,dr/jr (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)