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Fire engulfs Istanbul train station

Firefighters battled a blaze that engulfed the roof of Istanbul's historic Haydarpasa train station building during restoration work, authorities have said.

The blazes damaged most of the roof of the early 20th century building and the fourth floor, said Selami Ozturk, local mayor of the Kadikoy district.

"The fire has been put under control, there are no casualties," said Gov Huseyin Avni Mutlu of Istanbul. "However, it is sad that such a historic building has been damaged."

Talat Aydin, deputy under-secretary of the Transportation Ministry, said trains from Anatolia would start carrying passengers to Haydarpasa again in a few hours.

Private NTV television said welding or an electrical short circuit might have caused the blaze on the roof but authorities said it was early to determine the cause.

Fireboats used water cannons to spray water on the roof of the U-shaped building built by German architects. Gray smoke was still billowing from the top of the building after the firefighters got the blaze under control.

Eyup Muhcu, head of Turkey's Architects' Chamber, said the building was considered to be a historic monument.

The firefighters were still trying to cool down the building with seawater.

Haydarpasa was built in 1908 on the Asian side of Istanbul, bisected by the Bosporus Strait, as part of German Empire's ambitious Berlin-Baghdad railway project aimed at gaining control and influence in the region.

It is a splendid structure with flights of marble stairs leading to the ground floor from where passengers board trains from several tracks. The monument, covered by textured sandstone, sits on a foundation of hundreds of timber piles, hammered into the seabed.

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