Image: Crashed bus in Egypt
Str  /  AP
A truck pulls a bus out of an irrigation canal in southern Egypt on Sunday.
updated 12/14/2008 5:22:40 PM ET 2008-12-14T22:22:40

A bus packed with passengers traveling along a narrow road in southern Egypt plunged into an irrigation canal, killing 57 people on Sunday, officials said.

Minya Governor Ahmed Diaa said the bus, with at least 70 passengers on board, swerved to avoid an oncoming pickup truck near a village close to the city of Minya, located about 133 miles (214 kilometers) south of Cairo.

Rescuers on small boats searched the canal for passengers, and volunteers pulled bodies out of the water. A crane later lifted the bus out of the canal.

One survivor told the Egyptian private television station Dream that a boat came to get him and a friend after the bus plunged into the water, but many people were unable to get out of the bus.

The accident took place early Sunday at the end of a major Muslim holiday, when inter-city roads are crowded with returning vacationers.

Diaa initially said 36 people were killed, but rescue efforts continued hours after the accident and he later put the death toll at 57, according to state-run television.

Egypt has a history of serious bus and car crashes because of speeding, careless driving and poor road conditions. At least 8,000 people were killed in accidents in 2006, the most recent statistics available.

Sunday's incident is one of the worst road accidents in recent months, and a prosecution team was at the scene investigating. A string of fatal accidents and fires have fueled Egyptian anger at the government because of the belief that many of the incidents are due to official negligence or poor infrastructure.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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