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57 killed in Egypt road accident
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The death toll of a road accident in southern Egypt has risen to 57, the state MENA news agency reported on Sunday, citing a senior official.

Rescue workers retrieve a passenger bus that plunged into a canal near the Egyptian village of Dahrut, about 200 kms (125 miles) south of Cairo, December 14, 2008. [Xinhuanet.com] 

Minya Governor Ahmed Diaaeddin said the bus carrying 70 passengers was traveling to Beni Sueif when the accident occurred.

On Sunday morning, the coach overturned some 200 km south of Cairo on the way from the southern city of Minya to Beni Sueif, said MENA.

The bus plunged into Al-Ibrahimia canal as the driver was trying to avoid a speedy truck coming from the opposition direction, Diaaeddin was quoted as saying.

Earlier reports said most of the victims drowned in the canal before rescuers can reach them.

More than 20 ambulances rushed to the spot to take part in rescue operations, said Diaaeddin, adding both drivers are being held pending investigations.

Earlier reports said at least 51 people were killed in the road accident, one of the deadliest tragedies in the country in recent years.

Traffic accidents are common in Egypt with an estimated annual death toll of some 6,000 people.

Policemen stand next to the wreckage of a bus in El Minya, about 220 km (150 miles) southwest of Cairo, December 14, 2008. [Xinhuanet.com] 

On Monday, a bus carrying Coptic students overturned about 30 km south of Cairo, killing at least 13 people and injuring 30 others.

On Dec. 1, at least 14 people were killed and 11 others injured when a lorry collided with two microbuses near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, some 220 km northwest of Cairo.

The Egyptian traffic authorities implemented a new traffic code with tougher punishments for lawbreakers as of Aug. 1 in a bid to reduce road accidents.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2008)

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