The emergency in a downtown D.C. Metro tunnel that filled a Yellow Line car with smoke, leaving one dead and 83 others in need of medical attention, was “an electrical arcing event” according to the National Transportation Safety Board press briefing late last night.
The accounts of passengers, put together by the Washington Post, are absolutely nightmarish. In the mid-afternoon, the train stopped without warning almost immediately after entering the tunnel and “pretty steadily” filled with smoke. One passenger appeared to have a seizure and another was banging on the doors screaming before the train operator spoke over the public address system to assure them that the smoke was not due to a fire.
That reportedly “calmed people down a little bit,” but many passengers continued to struggle to breath. Some lost consciousness. Some prayed or hugged strangers.
A rescue attempt was delayed by firefighters’ concerns that power to the track bed was not actually turned off, Eugene A. Jones, the interim chief of D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, told the Washington Post.
One female passenger died, and 83 others went to hospitals. At least two were in critical condition.
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