Fire engulfs new Saudi high-speed rail station in Jeddah | News | DW | 29.09.2019

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Fire engulfs new Saudi high-speed rail station in Jeddah

Online videos showed what appeared to be major structural damage. The station is the centerpiece of a new multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project.

A massive fire on Sunday ripped through a new high-speed train station leaving at least five people injured in Saudi Arabia's coastal city of Jeddah.

Videos posted on social media showed black plumes of smoke billowing out of the Haramain train station and helicopters flying over the scene. Online videos showed nearly a dozen people on the roof of the structure.

Read more: Saudi Arabia: Between religion, oil dependence and reforms

The fire department is currently fighting the blaze with air support, and has brought many sections of the blaze under control. Those injured have been taken to hospital, according to the official Twitter account of the Mecca region.

It stated that 16 medical teams were working at the scene and had treated another four injured at the site.

There was no immediate known cause of the fire. 

The €6.7 billion ($7.3 billion) Haramain Railway was inaugurated last September to connect the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina with the Red Sea city of Jeddah with electric trains traveling up to 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour).

Read more: Saudi Arabia offers foreign tourists visas for first time

Officials described the 450-kilometer (280-mile) line as one of the most important transportation expansion projects in the kingdom's rail network and the biggest electric speed train project in the Middle East. 

Thick smoke rises from a fire at a train station in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Firefighters could be seen battling the blaze and spraying water on the flames, also using a water-dropping helicopter

The project aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform program aimed at weaning the economy off oil dependence and creating jobs for the country's young population. 

kmm, cw/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

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