Six Australians killed in traffic accident in Egypt

A bus carrying Australian tourists overturned on a wet highway overnight, killing six Australians and injuring at least 20 other people, an Egyptian security official confirmed Wednesday.

The crash took place in rain on the Cairo-Alexandria highway about 46 kilometers north of Cairo, said the security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Blaming the crash on the bad weather, he said 25 people were injured. However, a spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs put the injured toll at 24. She confirmed that six Australians had died.

Speaking in a phone call from Canberra, she said the bus that crashed was one of a convoy of two carrying vacationing police officers and family members from Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The other bus was not involved in the crash, which occurred at 10:45 p.m. (20:45 GMT) on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity according to ministry rules.

In Australia, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters: "There's been a very serious accident in Egypt in which a number of Australians have been involved."

"We assume that those who were killed and injured were Australians or were largely Australians," Downer said, adding that the Australian ambassador was on the scene and trying to assist.

Police estimate road accidents kill about 6,000 people annually, the AP reports.

V.Y.