MOSCOW – A rush-hour subway train derailed Tuesday in Moscow, killing 20 people and sending at least 150 others to the hospital, many with serious injuries, Russian emergency officials said.
Several cars went off the track in the tunnel after a power surge triggered an alarm, which caused the train to stop abruptly, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement.
Emergency services have recovered 12 dead bodies and are working to extract three more bodies from the wrecked train car, Moscow’s deputy mayor, Viktor Biryukov, told Russian news agencies.
Of the 150 reported injured, least 50 of them are in grave condition, the Itar-TASS news agency said, quoting Moscow health department chief Georgy Golukhov.
Tuesday’s derailment seems to be worst incident in Moscow’s subway in decades, barring deadly bombings a few years ago.
The Russian capital’s airports and transit systems have been hit by several terrorist attacks over the past two decades but officials said Tuesday this appeared to be an accident. Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Vladimir Puchkov said terrorism is not being considered as a possible cause.
Yuri Akimov, a Moscow spokesman for the emergency services, said outside the Park Pobedy station in west Moscow that about 200 people were evacuated from the train, which was stuck between two stations.
Park Pobedy is the deepest metro station in Moscow’s subway system – 84 meters (275 feet) deep, which made the rescue particularly hard. The station serves the vast Park Pobedy, where the World War II museum is located.
The Moscow Metro is one of the most famous subway systems in the world, known for its palatial interiors with mosaics, chandeliers and marble benches.
Injured people were being taken out of the Park Pobedy station on stretchers. Paramedics carried one woman covered with a blanket to the lawn by the famous Triumphal Arch and put her on a medical helicopter, one of four seen taking off from the park.
In the scorching summer weather authorities provided drinking water to survivors, some of whom were sitting nearby the station’s entrance in a state of a shock.
Photos on social media showed passengers walking along the tracks inside the dimly lit tunnel.
A man with a bloody cut on his brow told Rossiya 24 television outside the Park Pobedy station that he felt a jolt and the train abruptly came to a halt.
“There was smoke and we were trapped inside,” he said. “It’s a miracle we got out. I thought it was the end.”
While accidents are regular occurrences in the Moscow Metro, deadly incidents are rare.