Wednesday 22 May 2019

Dozens killed as train crashes into barrier at Cairo railway station

Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramsis train station in Cairo, Egypt (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramsis train station in Cairo, Egypt (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Maggie Michael

A speeding train has crashed into a barrier at Cairo's main railway station, causing its fuel tank to explode and triggering a huge fire that left at least 25 people dead, officials said.

Railway officials said the train was speeding and collided head-on with the barrier.

At least 47 people were also injured in Wednesday's accident.

Mohammed Said, the head of the Cairo Railway hospital, said there are concerns the death toll could rise further following the blaze.

A member of security forces gestures as rescue workers and people gather at the scene after a fire caused deaths and injuries at the main train station in Cairo, Egypt, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A member of security forces gestures as rescue workers and people gather at the scene after a fire caused deaths and injuries at the main train station in Cairo, Egypt, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
People walk at the main train station after a fire caused deaths and injuries, in Cairo, Egypt, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A member of security forces inspect the damage caused by a fire at the main train station in Cairo, Egypt, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Photographs from the station showed charred bodies lying on the platforms at the Ramsis station in central Cairo as firefighters struggled to get the flames under control.

Heavy black smoke rose into the sky as ambulances rushed to the scene.

The Ramsis district is among the busiest and most crowded areas of the Egyptian capital.

The state railway agency briefly halted all train traffic and ordered the evacuation of the station.

Videos from surveillance cameras inside the station showed flames ravaging the station.

A video that surfaced on social media showed men and women carrying bags and personal belonging and walking on the rail platforms as the train car crashed and exploded.

Another video showed men and women running, searching for exits after the explosion.

A man runs back and forth, his shirt on fire, until another man rushes to pour water on him.

Egypt's prime minister Mustafa Madbouli said authorities must determine "who caused the accident and hold that person accountable".

He promised "harsh punishment" for the culprits.

Egypt's transport minister later resigned following the crash and resulting fire.

In a statement released by the Cabinet office, Hisham Arafat's resignation was announced.

Egypt's railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management.

Official figures show that 1,793 train accidents took place in 2017 across the country.

In March last year, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the government lacks about 250 billion Egyptian pounds, or 14.1 billion US dollars, to overhaul the run-down railway system.

Mr el-Sissi spoke a day after a passenger train collided with a cargo train, killing at least 12 people, including a child.

And in August 2017, two passenger trains collided just outside the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43 people.

In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section