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© RIA Novosti. Ruslan Krivobok

Ten injured in Moscow metro escalator catastrophe

by at 16/04/2012 15:32


A Komsomolskaya circle line metro station escalator injured 10 people on Sunday. Two of them, including a 15-year-old Omsk resident, had to be hospitalized.

One of those injured suffered a concussion and broken spine. Others also have broken bones and minor injuries.

Dangerous ride

On Sunday at 11:15 a.m., a descending escalator at the Komsomolskaya metro station suddenly sped up and then stopped so abruptly that people started falling over one other, said a spokeswoman from Moscow department of transport and road development, Interfax reported.

“It was about noon,” an eye-witness told Komsomolskaya Pravda. “We were going down underground and had almost made it to the bottom, when there was a loud crack, and the escalator flew down at a high speed. I saw the woman operator in the booth at the bottom hit a button with all her strength, but nothing was happening. I was standing up, Lena was crouching from fear. And then the stairs ended, she flew onto the stone floor, and people flew on top of her.”

Ten people required medical attention, mostly those at the bottom of the resulting pile of people. Ambulances were at the station within 15 minutes.

A special commission was set up to determine the cause of the accident. It is thought that there was a technical malfunction. The Moscow metro apologised for the accident, and is deciding on compensation for the injured or covering medical costs.

Escalator failure 30 years ago

The metro is considered one of the most reliable modes of transport in Moscow. However, there was similar accident with an escalator on Feb. 17, 1982, at the Aviamotornaya metro station. In that instance, the escalator also sped up, to escape the pile up of people, passengers jumped on the area between the escalators. The plastic sheeting could not hold their weight, and people fell through and hit the concrete floor below. Overall eight people died and 30 were injured. In that case, the moving stairs broke free from the engine cog wheels due to excessive wear and as a result the brakes failed.

Since then all the escalators were upgraded and stronger steps and brakes were installed. The areas between the escalators were also reinforced.

Unrestrained train

In another metro related incident, in St. Petersburg a metro train lost control this February, Fontanka.ru reported.

After a brake button failed, the train driver on one of the blue lines stopped the carriages by deflecting air from air vents to the brakes, which is banned under safety rules. The train stopped, but could not re-start, so the driver and a supervisor switched off the pneumatic breaks. The driver also switched off electric brakes by accident – as a result the train loaded with passengers ended up speeding down the tunnel faster than the permitted 60 km per hour without any working brakes.

The metro traffic superintendant noticed it, and switched off electricity to the rail network. Inertia took the train up a hill, and then back down, twice.

When the train stopped, the driver again violated all instructions and switched on the pneumatic breaks, and drove to the next station. Both he and the supervisor have both been transferred to jobs not connected with driving trains. 


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