Cairo train station crash and fire kill at least 20, injure 43

VIDEO: REUTERS
Left: People surveying the charred engine of the train which crashed through the buffers at the main train station in the Egyptian capital Cairo yesterday. Below: A man amid the debris at the scene of the accident.
People surveying the charred engine of the train which crashed through the buffers at the main train station in the Egyptian capital Cairo yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Left: People surveying the charred engine of the train which crashed through the buffers at the main train station in the Egyptian capital Cairo yesterday. Below: A man amid the debris at the scene of the accident.
A man amid the debris at the scene of the accident.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CAIRO • At least 20 people were killed and 43 injured when a locomotive smashed through the buffers at the main train station in the Egyptian capital Cairo yesterday, the Health Minister said.

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat resigned after the incident, the Cabinet said in a statement.

State television said the authorities have arrested the train driver.

Footage circulating on social media from a security camera inside the Ramses station showed the train failing to stop as it arrived at platform six, smashing through the buffers and a metal end railing, and exploding into a huge ball of fire.

Passengers carrying luggage ran for their lives as the fire spread, and several people were running covered in flames, witnesses said.

Health Minister Hala Zayed said the authorities had not been able to identify many of the 20 bodies recovered because they were too badly burned.

Witness Ibrahim Hussein said: "I saw a man pointing from the locomotive as it entered the platform, and screaming 'There are no brakes! There are no brakes!' before he jumped out of the locomotive. And I don't know what happened to him."

Security sources said there was no indication the crash was deliberate.

The Transport Minister said the train's diesel tank had exploded.

Egypt has one of the oldest and largest rail networks in the region and accidents causing casualties are common.

A train collision in Alexandria killed more than 40 people in 2017.

Egyptians have long complained that successive governments have failed to enforce basic safety standards for the railways.

The fire sent smoke billowing above the station. Inside, the train's charred engine could be seen tilted to one side next to a platform.

Dr Zayed said that in addition to the 20 killed, 43 people were injured, 15 of whom had been released after treatment. State television earlier put the death toll at 25 and said 50 were injured.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced from the station that the incident would be investigated and anyone found responsible would be held to account.

The Transport Ministry briefly suspended all arrivals and departures at the station before reopening all platforms except the one where the crash happened.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2019, with the headline 'Cairo train station crash and fire kill at least 20, injure 43'. Print Edition | Subscribe