By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: Dec 31, 2010 23:10 Updated: Dec 31, 2010 23:10
CAIRO: Egyptian police say flood waters caused by torrential rains earlier this week swept a bus packed with 77 schoolgirls and their teachers off a highway in the country’s south, ending in the tragic death of 15 people, most of them students.
Poorly equipped rescue workers and local residents struggled to save those on board the bus, which overturned late Wednesday in a deep trench created by strong flood currents along the highway leading to the city of Minya, 200 km south of the capital, Cairo.
The last two survivors were pulled out of the waters in the early hours Friday, a police report said.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bodies of young girls wearing headscarves and school uniforms floating in the water.
The dead included an ambulance driver who had rescued 20 of those on board the bus before the floods swept him away and he also drowned, the report said.
The schoolgirls and their teachers had been on a trip to Minya and were returning home to the town of Assiut when the accident took place.
According to the police report, survivors recounted that the bus driver had stopped to have a closer look at the surrounding terrain, inundated with torrential rains and flooding when the waters suddenly swept them away.
Egypt’s southern region, where village houses are built of mud bricks and the roads are poorly maintained, was heavily affected during the rains and bad winter weather earlier this week.
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