Monday, June 22, 2009

DC Metro Line Trains Collide

DC Metro Line Trains Collide

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Washington -- A rush-hour collision between two crowded trains on Washington's subway system killed at least six people this evening and injured dozens, trapping commuters in a stack of twisted rail cars that rescuers were still searching hours later.Witnesses say a train near the Ft. Totten station on the Metro's busy Red Line was rear-ended by another train, which climbed atop the stopped cars ahead of it, leaving a two-level snarl of debris. The operator of the approaching train, whose name was not immediately released, was among the dead, authorities said.
Rescue workers propped up ladders to help survivors escape from the upper train cars. Seats from the smashed cars spilled out onto the track.D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said rescuers treated 70 people at the scene in the first two hours, including the six who died."This is the deadliest incident in the history of Metro," said Washington City Councilman Jim Graham. He described the wreckage with a single word: "Horror."
The accident occurred on a curved section of track after a long straightaway, during clear weather, on the subway system's most heavily used line. It was about 5 p.m. local time, among the system's busiest hours.Jervis Bryant, a Prince George's County teacher, said he heard the collision from a house 2 1/2 blocks away and got to the scene within five minutes."We saw the folks banging on the windows trying to get out," he said, referring to the second train. Rescuers pried the door open, he said, and people streamed out. "They just bum-rushed it."Officials don't expect to know what caused the crash for several days. Metro chief John B. Catoe said the first train was stopped on the tracks, waiting for another train to clear the station ahead, when the second train plowed into it from behind.The only other fatal accident in the Metro's 33-year history was a 1982 derailment that killed three. A third collision in 2004 caused minor injuries.Metro trains are generally operated by a computer system; operators can override the controls on orders from dispatchers."Our safety officials are investigating and will continue to investigate until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again," Catoe said.

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