BBC Report: Egyptian Security Forces On Alert in Anticipation of Angry Reaction From Relatives of “Fire Train” Victims
Egyptian emergency units have finished recovering bodies from the Cairo-Luxor passenger train which caught fire, causing the deaths of at least 373 people. It was the worst disaster in the history of Egypt's 150-year-old railway system.
Most of the people who died were burned to death as they tried to escape through jammed doors and barred windows, while the rest were killed after jumping from the moving train.
Prime Minister Atef Obeid told reporters at the scene that portable stoves used by passengers to heat food on the long trip south set off the blaze, which gutted seven of the 16 carriages of the train. However, several survivors told AFP said they saw nobody using the stoves because the carriages were too crowded to set them up.
The driver did not immediately realise the train was on fire and continued moving for seven kilometers before stopping at the town of al-Ayatt, 70 kilometers south of Cairo.
The train had lacked air conditioning and the draught coming from the open windows would have fanned the flames, causing them to spread swiftly.
The train was full of people returning to their homes in southern Egypt for the five-day Eid al-Adha festival, which celebrates the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security sources told Reuters an investigation would be held into safety precautions on the train.
For his part, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he was "deeply saddened" by the disaster and issued orders for assistance to be provided to the victims.
Social Affairs Minister Amina el-Gindy said the government would pay about $650 in emergency assistance to the families of the dead, and about $222 to the injured.
According to the BBC, security forces had been put on alert in anticipation of an angry reaction from relatives of the victims. Egypt's banned opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has for its part talked about "gross negligence" behind the fire. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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