CAIRO (AFP) – A hurtling locomotive crashed, derailed and caught fire at Cairo’s main train station on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people in the latest disaster to strike Egypt’s rundown railways.
The country’s transportation minister resigned hours after the accident.
The train engine appeared to have slammed into the buffers at the end of the track at high speed, sparking a major blaze that blackened the walls of the Ramses station.
Firefighters were seen hosing down the charred wreckage of the locomotive as security forces guarded the site.
Twenty people were killed and 40 injured, the Health Ministry said.
Ahmed Ibrahim, a jewellery salesman, said he was on his way to work when he heard a loud explosion.
“I ran to see a lot of people injured. I had to carry a young girl with my own hands,” he said, apparently still in shock.
“I saw bodies cut in half. I’d never seen that… I never thought I’d ever touch dead bodies.”
The train driver was arrested and an official investigation is underway, the prosecutor general said in a statement.
It said the driver had left his cabin without turning the engine off, so that the train careered onwards at full speed before smashing to a violent stop.
CCTV footage circulating online showed the locomotive smashing into the barrier without slowing down. People walking on the platform were enveloped by smoke.
Separate footage filmed inside the station showed a fire engulfing the train and a nearby platform and people rushing to help the casualties.