At least 49 young children died when the school bus in which they were riding collided Saturday with a train in the southern Egyptian province of Asyut.

Egypt's Health Ministry said in a statement that 18 other children aged four to six were seriously injured and taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The driver of the vehicle and two chaperones also were killed in Saturday morning's accident in the district of Manfaloot, 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Cairo, the Mena state-run news agency reported.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi accepted the resignation of his transportation minister, Mohammed Rashad al-Metini, in the wake of the accident and called for a thorough investigation and compensation for the victims' families.

The head of the state railway authority, Mustafa Qanaui, also resigned.

Several Cabinet members were coordinating the investigation at the accident site, where rescue workers were still recovering the bodies of the victims.

Distraught relatives held a demonstration at the site and demanded the death penalty for those responsible for the accident, prompting local authorities to intervene and seek to calm tensions.

Railway and auto accidents are common in Egypt due to the poor condition of vehicles and roads, imprudent drivers and poor road signage.

Egypt's worst railway tragedy occurred in 2002, when 376 people died in a massive fire on a passenger train traveling from Cairo to Luxor. EFE