Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Egypt rail crash workers jailed

Egyptians gather around the site of a collision between two passenger trains in Girzah district, Egypt
Egyptians gather around the site of the crash in October

Eight Egyptian railway workers have been convicted over a train crash that killed 18 people in October.

Sentences handed down ranged from three to seven years for manslaughter and negligence.

The accident happened near the town of al-Ayyat, south of Cairo when a passenger train ploughed into a stationary train.

The country's rail network has a long history of accidents. Egypt's transport minister resigned after the crash.

The driver of the stationary train unexpectedly stopped it after hitting a buffalo. He was sentenced to seven years.

A blood sample given by the driver contained traces of hashish, Egyptian officials said.

The driver of the other train received a five-year sentence. The assistant drivers and a signalman were also sentenced.

Lawyers for the defendants said they would appeal against the sentences.

The government has been criticised over its transport safety record after a spate of road and rail accidents.

The deadliest train accident in Egypt's recent history also took place at al-Ayyat in 2002, when a fire killed at least 360 people.

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