Officials charged over Egypt train fire
CAIRO, Egypt -- Eleven Egyptian rail officials have been charged with negligence over a train fire that killed 361 people, prosecutors said.
The cause of the fire was discovered to be a portable gas stove on the overcrowded train, the prosecutors said on Saturday.
The tragedy was the worst accident in 150 years of Egyptian rail history. The burning train rolled on for several kilometres between Cairo to Luxor after the fire broke out in February.
Prosecutors said they had charged 11 medium- to low-ranking rail officials with negligence and mistakes that led to the deaths. They were also charged with ignoring railroad regulations.
Transport Minister Ibrahim Demiri resigned after the blaze.
Prosecutors told a press conference that the train's 16 overcrowded carriages were ferrying 4,000 people when the fire broke out from a small stove.
Passengers often use portable gas stoves to brew tea and coffee on trains.
They said there were not enough fire extinguishers on the train, and those that were there did not work properly.
The train was so overcrowded that passengers were not able to activate emergency brakes and warnings that would have alerted the driver and stopped the train, they added.
Some passengers died after jumping from the train to escape the fire, while others died trapped inside the third-class carriages, some behind metal window grills.
Two of the 11 railway officials were also charged with falsifying official papers that said the train was fit to carry passengers.
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