, Cairo, Egypt, Feb 27 – A fiery train crash killed at least 20 people at Cairo’s main station on Wednesday, security and medical sources said, in the latest disaster to strike Egypt’s rundown railways.
The train engine appeared to have slammed into the buffers at the end of the track at high speed, sparking a major blaze at the Ramses station and leaving 40 more people injured.
Egyptian state TV confirmed the casualty figures.
Firefighters were seen hosing down the charred wreckage of the train inside the station, whose walls were left blackened by the fire, as security forces guarded the site.
CCTV footage circulating online showed the train’s locomotive hurtling into the barrier without slowing down. People walking on the platform were enveloped by smoke.
Other photos from the scene showed a thick cloud of black smoke billowing in the station.
Charred objects were scattered on the ground at the scene.
Separate footage filmed inside the station showed a fire engulfing the train and a nearby platform and people rushing to help the casualties.
Ambulances and rescue teams were dispatched to the site, medical sources said.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli was quick to visit the scene, promising a tough response.
“Any person found to be negligent will be held accountable and it will be severe,” he said.
Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to deal with chronic transport problems in the country, where roads are as poorly maintained as railway lines.
Officials often blame the rail network’s poor maintenance on years of negligence and a lack of funds.
The government has on several occasions promised to take steps to upgrade the sector especially after several derailments and collisions in recent years.
The official statistics agency says there were 1,793 train accidents in 2017, up from 1,249 in 2016.
In August 2017 two passenger trains collided near Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing more than 40 people and injuring scores.
The next year a train crash in the northern province of Beheira killed at least 15 people and injured dozens more.
Months later 60 people were injured when another train derailed.
Egypt’s transportation minister sacked the head of the railway authority at the time.
The deadliest accident on Egypt’s railways dates back to 2002 when 373 people died when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.