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Bus, train crash in Egypt kills 51 -- mostly children

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
November 18, 2012 -- Updated 0532 GMT (1332 HKT)
Egyptians inspect the damage caused by train accident in the province of Assuit, south of Cairo on November 17.
Egyptians inspect the damage caused by train accident in the province of Assuit, south of Cairo on November 17.
  • NEW: The train slams into the bus and drags it for nearly half a mile
  • NEW: 17 people are injured, the heath ministry says
  • The children killed were on their way to kindergarten
  • Two officials resign in the wake of the crash

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- A train collided with a school bus Saturday morning in Egypt, killing 51 people and injuring 17, according to the health ministry.

Most of the dead were children.

The crash in the central Egyptian province of Assiut prompted some officials to go to the area to give assistance and others to resign. The city of Assiut is about 200 miles south of Cairo.

Mohamed Ibrahim is a father who lost three children in the accident.

"I had not seen them in the morning before they went to school because I was at work. I have to accept God's decision," he said. "Their destiny was written before they were born. They were all studying the Quran and recited many verses to me. Maybe I will see them in heaven."

Barriers at the train crossing were not down when the train struck the bus, according to Alaa Mamoud, a spokesman for the interior ministry. Police are investigating the worker on duty.

The train dragged the bus for nearly half a mile. Children's shoes, books and school bags were strewn across the tracks. The twisted shell of the bus was left under the train.

The children killed were on their way to kindergarten and were between four and six years old. Three adults also died, according to the health ministry.

Transportation Minister Mohammed Rashad al-Metainy stepped down, as did the head of the local railroad agency.

Both were called in for questioning by the general prosecutor.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy ordered an investigation to find those responsible for the crash, and to hold them accountable. Local residents protested the president, calling on him to resign.

The government is giving the family of each person killed around $1,500 in compensation. The family of each injured victim will receive about $900, according to the prime minister's office.

The accident came soon after another deadly train collision in Egypt. Three people were killed and dozens injured in that crash last week in Fayoum, south of Cairo. An initial investigation showed the accident may have been due to negligence.

CNN's Amir Ahmed contributed to this report.

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