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15 Jul, 2014 05:42

Over 20 killed, 160 injured as Moscow Metro carriages derail in rush hour

At least 22 people have been killed and over 160 injured as several subway cars derailed on the Moscow Metro on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya dark blue Metro line on Tuesday morning, according to health officials.

“Twenty-two people were fatally injured. One hundred and twenty-nine people were taken to hospital,” said official representative from Russia’s Emergency Ministry, Aleksandr Drobyushevsky.

Earlier, there were reports of 21 dead.

“Twelve people extracted from the cars were already dead, seven died in the station’s hall and two more people - a man and a woman – died in the 71st hospital from major traumatic injuries,” said head of the Health ministry Veronika Skvortsova as cited by RIA Novosti.

According to Skvortsova, 126 people are still hospitalized, five of whom are in a critical condition.

Moscow authorities have declared Wednesday a day of mourning for those who died in the accident.

Among the victims of the accident are a citizen of China and another from Tajikistan. While among the injured are residents of 12 Russian regions and five countries – Ukraine, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

Officers of the Russian Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief work near metro train railcar that was derailed between the Park Pobedy (Victory Park) and Slavyansky Boulevard stations. (RIA Novosti)

A total of 1,150 people have been evacuated from the site of the accident, according to press service of the Moscow Emercom branch.

The driver of the derailed train, who was earlier reported dead, is actually alive and being treated in hospital, Moscow authorities say, according to RIA Novosti.

Investigators have been looking into all possible theories of how the accident could have occurred, ruling out a terrorist act, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin said at a press conference.

"No signs of terrorist act are being seen. It’s most likely a technological accident,” Markin said.

“There can be several reasons: failed switch, rail subsidence, because there are construction works in a tunnel nearby. We will consider the possibility of the carriage itself being defective - anything that will emerge during the investigation,” Markin said.

Rescuers and paramedics use helicopters to evacuate passengers injured as several subway cars derailed in Moscow, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

The accident happened during the morning rush hour when the train was packed with passengers.

The first carriage of the train sustained most of the damage, according to an eyewitness of the accident who spoke to RT. Ivan, said he was in the second car when the train suddenly braked and the lights went off.

I was tossed up in the air,” the young man says. “There was blood on the floor, heads bruised, arms broken. Panic broke out.”

Ivan also says after the train derailed there was a flash and then the tunnel was filled with thick smoke.

The car was badly damaged. We started to get out. We saw a door in the tunnel’s wall. Men eventually broke that door and we saw workers, constructing a parallel tunnel. They helped us to get out.”

Rescuers and paramedics evacuate passengers injured as several subway cars derailed in Moscow, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

An eyewitness, who spoke to LifeNews, was in the fifth carriage and says they had to wait for 30 minutes before the evacuation started.

“So as we got out, we proceeded to march on foot, probably for two or three minutes - along the tunnel with cables underneath. The train driver had told us right away to stick to the right side, so we did. No sooner had we got to the surface than we realized it was a full-blown emergency.”

Members of the emergency services carry an injured passenger outside a metro station following an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

Andrey Zenin, another survivor in the accident, says he helped extinguish the fire in one of the carriages and he also was among the volunteers who helped to get the injured out of the tunnel.

There was a man next to me and his head had been smashed by the handrail and he was unconscious,” Zenin told RT. “Some people had broken ribs and one person’s arm was injured. All in all, people were hysterical.”

RT Photo

Law enforcement officials told that three train cars had derailed, “but not overturned.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the Metro train crash and wished a swift recovery to those injured, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised that the federal government will help in the post-accident clean-up.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has said those responsible for the accident will be held accountable.

“I’m sure a criminal case should be launched into the accident, an investigation conducted and the toughest measures taken,” Sobyanin told journalists, after he visited a hospital where the injured had been taken.

It will take up to two days to get train traffic back on track on the dark blue line of the Moscow Metro, according to Sobyanin.

RT Photo

News of the derailment was preceded by reports of smoke detected on the dark blue line of the Moscow Metro. Later, Moscow’s emergencies agency denied reports of smoke and said a sudden failure in the electricity supply to a conductor rail could have caused the accident.

A failure in the power supply led to a false alarm going off. The alarm was a signal to the train driver to immediately stop the train. The sudden braking led to the derailment of several carriages.

Members of the emergency services carry an injured passenger outside a metro station following an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

At 8:39am Moscow time [04:39 GMT] on a stretch between stations of Park Pobedy [Victory Park] and Slavyansky Bulvar there was abrupt deceleration of a train,” Moscow emergencies agency 's press service employee told RT.

Sixty-six buses, 40 ambulances and eight helicopters have been deployed by rescuers for evacuations.

Members of the emergency services attend to an injured passenger outside a metro station following an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

The Investigative Committee (IC) has launched a criminal case over ‘violation of transportation security demands’, according to interim head of the Moscow’s Western District Department of the IC, Roman Syomushkin.

RIA Novosti

The Moscow Metro, with its 194 stations and a route length of 325.4 km (202.2 miles) is one of the world’s busiest, carrying up to 9 million passenger trips each workday.

The Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya, or dark blue line, where the accident happened, is the longest and possesses the deepest section in the Moscow Metro, at 74 meters (243ft) deep near the Park Pobedy station.

As of 2011, the blue line carried 733,000 people daily, but has since been extended westwards, with several new stations opening.

image from mosmetro.ru