Dozens Killed and Injured in Crash and Fire at Cairo Train Station

February 27, 2019 Updated: February 27, 2019

WARNING: VIDEOS CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT

CAIRO, Egypt—At least 25 people were killed and 50 injured when a locomotive smashed through the buffer stop at Cairo’s main train station on Wednesday, Feb. 27, causing an explosion and a fire, state television and witnesses said.

Footage circulating on social media from a security camera inside Ramses station showed the train failing to stop as it arrived at platform six, smashing through the buffers and a metal end railing as passengers carrying luggage walked by.

Footage from a second camera showed people running from the explosion, some with their clothes on fire.

Security sources said there was no indication that the crash was deliberate. The transport minister said the train’s diesel tank had exploded.

Eyewitness Ibrahim Hussein said: “I saw a man pointing from the locomotive as it entered the platform, and screaming ‘There are no brakes! There are no brakes!’ before he jumped out of the locomotive. And I don’t know what happened to him.”

Heavy black smoke rose into the sky as ambulances rushed to the scene. Inside, the train’s charred engine could be seen tilted to one side next to a platform.

Cairo train crash
A damaged train is seen at the main train station after a fire caused deaths and injuries, in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 27, 2019. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

The state railway agency briefly halted all train traffic and ordered the evacuation of the station. The Ramsis district is among the busiest and most crowded areas of the Egyptian capital.

Bystander Mina Ghaly added: “I was standing on the platform and I saw the train speed into the barrier … Everyone started running but a lot of people died after the locomotive exploded.

“I saw at least nine corpses lying on the ground, charred.”

‘Terrifying’

Ahmed Abdeltawab said the platform had been crowded with people waiting for another train.

“The fire overwhelmed them and they ran while they were on fire until they fell meters from the incident,” he said. “The scene was terrifying.”

People gather at the main train station after a fire caused deaths and injuries, in Cairo
People gather at the main train station after a fire caused deaths and injuries, in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 27, 2019. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced from the station that the incident would be investigated and anyone found responsible held to account.

Egypt has one of the oldest and largest rail networks in the region and accidents causing casualties have been common. A train collision in Alexandria killed more than 40 people in 2017.

In March last year, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the government lacks about 250 billion Egyptian pounds, or $14.1 billion, to overhaul the run-down railway system. El-Sissi spoke a day after a passenger train collided with a cargo train, killing at least 12 people, including a child.

Egyptians have long complained that successive governments have failed to enforce basic safety standards for the railways.

Cairo train crash 4
Policemen stand guard in front of a damaged train inside Ramsis train station in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 27, 2019. (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

Student Ali Ramadan said he had suffered burns and injured his foot when he ran into a concrete bench on the crowded platform.

“I don’t know when these train accidents will end … They told us they got millions of dollars’ worth of new locomotives and trains, and people are still dying because of train accidents.”

Ahmed Youssef, a doctor at Al Helal hospital, close to the station, said more than 20 injured had been admitted, most of them in serious condition.

The transport ministry briefly suspended all arrivals and departures at the station before reopening all platforms except the one where the crash happened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.