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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 07:53 GMT
Electric fault 'caused' Egypt train fire
A mother grieves for her son who was killed in the fire
A funeral for unidentified victims will be held on Sunday
An electrical short-circuit was the main cause of a horrific fire which killed 373 people in Egypt's worst train disaster, local media has reported.

He told me people were stacked like meat on top of each other, stepping on each other, with no space even to breath

Nurse of one of the injured survivors
Two state-run newspapers - Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram - say the government's inquiry team has discovered that the fire was not caused by a passenger's cooking stove as was first suggested.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has tried to reduce the public's anger over Wednesday's disaster by promising to punish anyone found to have been negligent.

Egypt's Transport Minister, Ibrahim al-Demeri and the head of the country's railway authority, Ahmed al-Sherif both resigned on Friday.

A mass funeral for unidentified victims is due to take place on Sunday. It was postponed from Saturday to allow relatives more time to identify victims.

No safety equipment

The train was packed to twice its capacity when it caught fire shortly after leaving Cairo for Luxor.

The cause of the accident was initially blamed on passengers using portable cookers.

Workers at the train fire scene
The train lacked fire alarms and extinguishers
However, quoting a police source close to the inquiry, Al-Akhbar said that theory had been virtually ruled out.

The investigators also found that carriages were not equipped with fire alarms, extinguishers, or emergency brakes or windows, Al-Akhbar reported.

Nearly 200 bodies have been identified so far and taken away by relatives for private burials, but many of the remains were burnt beyond recognition.

See also:

20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Stove blamed for Egypt train inferno
21 Feb 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Egyptian train disaster
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Egypt's train disaster
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Survivors tell of Egyptian train horror
22 Feb 02 | Middle East
Minister resigns over Egypt train fire
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Egypt's history of train disasters
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Egypt
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