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Egypt heartbroken over Assiut train crash

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Protests follow the deadly accident

Egyptians inspect the damage caused by train accident in the province of Assuit, south of Cairo on November 17, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Egyptians inspect the damage caused by train accident in the province of Assuit, south of Cairo on November 17, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Political parties and NGOs have expressed their grief and anger after a train hit a school bus on Saturday morning, leaving 51 children dead and over a dozen injured.

The crash occurred in Manfalout, Assiut and the bus was dragged by the train for almost a kilometre, according to state-run Al-Ahram.

The minister of transportation has resigned over the issue.

Al-Karama Party, the National Council for Women and the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood said the Minister of Transportation Mohamed Rashad Al-Mateeny’s resignation is not enough, but he should be tried for negligence along with everyone responsible for the accident.

Political parties such as the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) released a statement on Sunday saying the party “holds President Mohamed Morsy and his government responsible for the accident.” The party said the transportation sector has for long suffered from negligence and corruption and that the resignation of the minister isn’t enough. The party said it is necessary the government comes up with a plan that ensures that Egypt’s transportation sector meets international world requirements.

The ESDP is planning to hold a protest at the Cabinet on Thursday and a silent vigil at Cairo University is planned for Monday.

The elected committee governing the ongoing doctors’ strike also released a statement on the level of healthcare that was provided to the injured. The statement said that the ambulances were late, poorly equipped and the hospital the children were taken to had poor capabilities. In addition, there were shortages in medicine needed for critical and emergency cases. It said all of this exposed to society the level of corruption and negligence in government healthcare and the immediate need for reform.

The prosecutor general called in the resigned minister along with the current and former heads of the Railways Authority, and banned them from leaving the country.

Following the crash, Minister of Interior Ahmed Gamal Al-Din, former head of security in Assiut, and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil went to visit the injured along with several other ministers. The crowds chanted against them and kicked the officials out, according to Ahmed Abdel-Kereem, Assiut activist.

“We don’t know the reason, but the people were chanting and suddenly the CSF began cordoning the crowd and then CSF started hitting the people from the other side… It could be because the officials were kicked out,” he added.

Abdel-Kereem said that a symbolic funeral was held for the victims on Saturday night in front of the building of the Governorate of Assiut. He added that things in Assiut were almost back to normal on Sunday morning but that people are coming to visit the families of the victims and show support to them. “I spoke to Khaled Ali who said he was coming,” Abdel-Kereem said. Khaled Ali is a former presidential candidate and activist.


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