Egypt’s Transport Minister Resigns After Deadly Cairo Train Fire Leaves 25 Dead

CAIRO, Egypt, Egypt’s Transport Minister, Hesham Arafat has resigned, after a train loaded with fuel slammed into a platform at Cairo’s main train station, killing at least 25 people and wounding 47 others.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly accepted Mr Arafat’s resignation, a cabinet statement said.

Authorities said, the death toll was likely to rise as emergency teams search for more victims at the charred scene of the accident, which happened around 10:15 am local time.

The fire was likely caused by the ignition of the diesel carried by the engine car.

The accident happened when the car pulled out of a hangar near the Ramses station, and pulled over at platform six, which serves trains bound for destinations north and east of Cairo, including the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean. Officials say, it slammed too hard against the end of the platform, right at the area where scores of would-be passengers normally wait.

The blast was so strong it blew people waiting at the platform away and down on the rails. Others caught fire and were seen by witnesses to have died while in flames, according to an official, who added that, most of the injured had serious burns. Some of the victims were so badly burned they could not be recognised, they said.

The officials said, it took firemen nearly an hour to put the blaze out. Rail traffic from and to Ramses station resumed after a brief suspension, but the platforms most affected by the fire remained closed.

The accident happened at a time when the Cairo government is in the process of modernising the country’s antiquated rail network, first established in the 19th century. Authorities have been purchasing train cars from European manufacturers and striking partnerships with some of them to build the cars at home. There are also plans to fully computerise the signal system, whose failures, along with human errors, have caused a series of deadly accidents in recent years.

Wednesday’s blast sent up a cloud of black smoke over central Cairo, where ambulance and fire brigade sirens pierced the air in the late morning. Police cordoned off the station immediately after the blast, which deepened Cairo’s usually congested traffic.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, ordered an investigation into the accident.

Source: Nam News Network