CAIRO, EGYPT — Egyptian media say more than 25 people were killed and dozens wounded Wednesday after a passenger train crashed into the platform at Cairo’s main rail station. The impact caused a fuel tank on the platform to explode, setting fire to the train.
The accident at the Ramsis railway station set off a massive fireball, incinerating the front cars of the train and causing horrific burns to passengers and bystanders on the platform adjacent to the crash. Surveillance cameras captured the incident, showing bystanders on fire and running to escape the inferno.
One security camera showed a man, his body on fire, running down a set of stairs before collapsing. Rescue workers reported that many of the casualties were in critical condition, suffering severe burns.
Fire and rescue vehicles rushed to the scene during the morning rush hour. Fire crews doused the burning passenger cars, and many people inside the front cars were thought to have been incinerated by the fire and extreme heat of the blaze.
Prime Minister Mustapha Madbouli told reporters on the platform, after visiting the crash site, that every effort was being made to determine what happened.
He says the era of keeping silent and sweeping things under the rug has come to an end and the government will do its utmost to determine what happened and who was responsible, with a committee investigating the crash.
Witnesses say the train did not slow down as it approached the station. Egyptian railways are beset with frequent accidents due to brake failure and other incidents related to the antiquated state of signals, tracks, locomotives and passenger cars. The latest disaster led to the resignation of Egypt’s transportation minister, Hisham Arafat.
Ashraf al Ashri, editor of Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper, told Al Arabiya TV that he believed that “both technical and human error were to blame” and that he suspected that the “brakes of the train may have failed, due to the speed at which the train approached the platform,” before crashing.