The death toll of a horrific school bus crash in Egypt has officially been raised to 51, after a child died in hospital this morning. 50 children between the ages of four and six years old, as well as the school bus driver, have been killed after their school bus was hit by a train on Saturday in the central portion of Egypt, said local authorities.
According to the governor of the province, it appears that the person who was in charge of operating the crossing that blocked off the road when a train was approaching was asleep at the time of the incident. The man has been arrested and will be charged with negligence and possibly man slaughter.
The Egyptian minister of transport has resigned in the aftermath of the accident, which happened near Manfalut, a city 350km south of the country’s capital, Cairo. It now appears that the head of the railway authority has also handed in his resignation.
The president of Egypt, Mohammed Mursi, has encouraged his cabinet ministers to extend their support to the family members of all the children who were killed in the accident, said the state news agency.
According to eye witness reports, the crossing barriers were wide open at the time of the accident, and the bus began to cross the tracks when a train coming along the track at high speed smashed into the bus. The train then pushed the bus about 1 km along the track before coming to a stop. Doctor Mohamed Samir, who treated some of the dozen or so injured at the scene, told Reuters news agency that the crossing was obvious not being operated.
As well as those killed, more than a dozen children were injured, many of whom have severed limbs and other critical injuries. They are currently being treated in two local hospitals.
Egyptian roads and railways have long been known for their poor safety record. It is thought that approximately 8000 people die on the country’s roads each year, in accidents largely caused by driver error, poorly maintained roads and negligence.
Devastated family members gathered at the site of the accident and searched for remains of their children on the train tracks, reported the Associated Press. The accident has led to a wave of anger against the new government, with protestors claiming that the government is not delivering on its promises of improved conditions and basic human rights following last year’s bloody uprising.