The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 17, 2012

Egypt: Train hits school bus; 49 children killed

— ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) — A speeding train crashed into a bus carrying children to their kindergarten in southern Egypt on Saturday, killing at least 49, officials said. Distraught families searched for signs of their loved ones along the tracks and angry villagers berated officials in the aftermath of the latest disaster to hit the country's railway system.

The bus was carrying more than 50 children ages four to six when it was hit near al-Mandara village in Manfaloot district in the province of Assiut, a security official said. He said it appeared that the railroad crossing was not closed as the train sped toward it.

Egypt's railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.

Books, school bags and children's socks were strewn along the tracks near the blood-stained, mangled bus. Parents of the missing wailed as they looked for signs of their children. An Associated Press reporter at the scene said many of the remains were unrecognizable.

A woman who called herself Um Ibrahim, a mother of three, was pulling her hair in distress. "My children! I didn't feed you before you left," she wailed. One witness said the train pushed the bus along the tracks for nearly a kilometer (half mile).

As one man picked up a body part he screamed: "Only God can help!" Two hospital officials said between seven and 11 wounded were being treated in two different facilities, many with severed limbs.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Accidents traced to negligence regularly left scores dead during the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was accused of valuing loyalty over competence in many appointments of senior officials. Widespread corruption under his three decades in power has also been blamed for the underfunding of government services, particularly in poor provinces outside Cairo.

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