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47 children killed in Egypt school bus tragedy

Forty-seven nursery school children were killed yesterday when a train smashed into their bus in central Egypt after a railway signal operator fell asleep, officials said, prompting protests and resignations.

Transport Minister Rashad al-Metini stepped down after the tragedy, which also killed the bus driver and his assistant, saying he “accepts responsibility”. President Mohamed Morsi also accepted the Egyptian Railway Authority head’s resignation.

“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 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.”

“There is a team of 45 doctors looking after the injured children,” Keshk said.

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.

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