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Sunday 21 September 2014

21 killed in Moscow subway rush-hour pile-up

Roland Oliphant

Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30

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Members of the emergency services work at the site of an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.
Members of the emergency services work at the site of an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.
A member of the emergency services rests near a map of train lines outside a metro station following an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.
A member of the emergency services rests near a map of train lines outside a metro station following an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.
Members of the emergency services work at the site of an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.
Members of the emergency services work at the site of an accident on the subway in Moscow July 15, 2014.

TWENTY-ONE people died and 136 were injured yesterday in one of the worst accidents in the history of Moscow's metro system.

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Three carriages were derailed when a train braked suddenly in one of the deepest sections of the underground system just after 8.30am.

Images from the scene showed twisted carriages piled on top of one another, completely blocking the tunnel.

More than 1,100 people were evacuated.

"There was a jolt, I was thrown to the floor, then we got up and a guy with a hammer helped us smash open a door and we made our way out via the parallel tunnel," said Ivan, a commuter.

"It was hard to breathe, smoke everywhere."

Rescue workers had to make their way along the rails on foot.

Of the 136 passengers taken to hospital, 42 were reported to be in a serious condition.

Russia's investigative committee ruled out terrorism, saying the rush-hour crash was most likely "man-made", possibly caused by a power surge in the live rail.

The Emergencies Ministry said the train came to a sharp stop after a voltage drop in the subway's electrical system. Other officials cited a wheel malfunction.

State television showed rescue workers moving several hundred people out of a tunnel between the Slavyansky Bulvar and Park Pobedy stations in western Moscow.

The train, on the dark blue line that bisects the city, was heading away from downtown when the accident occurred.

Moscow's subway network, opened by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1935, is the world's busiest outside of Asia, carrying as many as nine million people a day through 194 stations, according to the website of its operator, Moscow Metropolitan.

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The city government said last year it planned to spend $55bn to upgrade and expand Moscow's road, rail and subway networks to boost use of public transport by 45pc.

Russia's ranks behind Ghana, Montenegro and Albania at 93rd out of 148 nations for the quality of its infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report.

A fire broke out in a subway tunnel near the Kremlin last year, prompting the evacuation of about 4,500 people and snarling downtown traffic. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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