Deadly fire erupts at Cairo train station | News | DW | 27.02.2019
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Deadly fire erupts at Cairo train station

At least 20 people have been killed in the Egyptian capital when a locomotive crashed into a steel barrier at the main train station, causing the engine's diesel tank to explode. The train's driver has been arrested.

At least 20 people were killed and 43 injured in a deadly explosion and fire at Cairo's main train station on Wednesday, officials said. Many of the injured remain in a critical condition.

Witnesses reported seeing a single rail car hitting the steel buffer at the end of the track at high speed, causing its diesel tank to explode and starting a large fire. Online videos of the incident showed people trying to flee the flames as the engine hit the barrier.

"Everyone started running but a lot of people died after the locomotive exploded," one man told the Reuters news agency.

Another witness said that a man screamed: "there are no brakes, there are no brakes" before jumping out of the carriage.

Security sources said there was no indication the incident, which happened at the busy Ramses railway hub, was deliberate. However, state television later reported the train driver had been arrested.

People gathered around the scene of the deadly fire (Reuters/A. Dalsh)

The death toll is expected to climb, according to medical officials

Ashraf Momtaz, a general railway inspector, told the AP news agency that it was possible that someone could have set the rail car on high speed and jumped out.

"The railcar takes time to (gather) speed so there is a chance that someone set it on full speed before leaving," he said, adding that investigators are considering all scenarios.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli pledged "harsh punishment" for the culprits, and the country's Transport Minister Hisham Arafat resigned after the incident.

Egypt has seen several railway tragedies in recent years. Collisions are not uncommon - according to the country's statistics agency, there were 1,793 accidents in 2017.

nn, dj/jil (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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