Middle East

Egyptian train hits school bus, 51 killed

Egyptian children break the window of a train car involved in the crash.

ASSIUT, Egypt: A speeding train that crashed into a bus carrying Egyptian children to their kindergarten over the weekend killed 51 and prompted a wave of anger against a government under mounting pressure to rectify the former regime’s legacy of neglect.

The crash, which killed children between 4 and 6 years old and three adults Saturday, led to protests and accusations from Egyptians that President Mohammad Mursi is failing to deliver on demands of last year’s uprising for basic rights and social justice.

The accident left behind a mangled shell of a bus twisted under the blood-splattered train outside the city of Assiut.

More than a dozen injured children were being treated with severed limbs and in critical condition.

Several hours after the accident, Mursi appeared on state television, promising an investigation and financial compensation for the victims’ families. His transport minister and the head of Egypt’s railways resigned.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful political force and Mursi’s base of support, blamed the crash on a culture of negligence fostered by deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment during the Mubarak era.

Residents near the crash site say the railway crossing guard was asleep Saturday when the bus drove over the track. It appeared the crossing was not closed as the train sped toward it. Authorities detained a railway worker who had fled the scene.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 19, 2012, on page 10.

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