Rail passengers feared terror attack after train hit deer that 'burst into flames'

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There was panic this weekend when a train struck a deer that was electrocuted before bursting into flames - leaving some passengers fearing a terror attack.

The incident occurred on the First Capital Connect service from Brighton to London, and the deer was struck at the exit of the Balcombe Tunnel at around 7am on Sunday.

The animal was electrocuted by the live rail and caught fire as the train was arriving at Gatwick Airport station, filling the terminal with smoke and creating chaos.

Speaking in the Metro, passenger Alex Barber, 30, said: "There was a lot of screaming and shouting when the initial sparks and fire took place with people thinking it was an explosion at the airport once it started filling with smoke. There was no real information for us or emergency procedure."

Another Passenger, John Ellis, 57, from Dubai, was travelling on the train to Gatwick on a business trip. He told The Argus: "There was a loud bang from under the front carriage where I was sitting.

"Sparks and fire then appeared outside the train and the carriage started to fill with smoke.

"All the electrics failed and there was panic as people screamed, shouting at each other to get out and fighting the smoke and darkness to evacuate the train.

"People tripped and fell during the panic. The platform was heaving with people. Most assumed it was a bomb explosion or terrorist attack.

"I could see the remains of the deer under the train as I escaped."

Rail travellers were delayed for up to 90 minutes, with services disrupted between 7am and 4pm.

It is thought that hundreds of passengers also missed flights and had to book later ones.

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