MOSCOW, January 13 (Sputnik) – One person died and scores were injured as hundreds of people were evacuated from smoke-filled L'Enfant Plaza station in Washington DC, the Associated Press reports, citing a local official.
Caroline Laurin, a spokeswoman for Washington DC’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services, confirmed that one person died in the incident. The name of the deceased has not been made public yet. However, authorities said it was a woman.
"We have one fatality, a woman who was in distress on the train, which I’m very sorry to report," said Metro General Manager Richard Sarles, as quoted by the Washington Post. "And my heart goes out to her family," he added.
Eighty-three people were hospitalized, with two of them in critical condition, according to the newspaper, citing Timothy Wilson, a spokesperson for DC’s Fire and EMS. The incident took place about 3:30 p.m. (20:30 GMT), the authorities said.
Metro Box Alarm Update: 84pts. transported to area hospitals with various injuries. Over 200 people evaluated.1 firefighter injured.— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) 13 января 2015
Jonathan Rogers, who was aboard a train in downtown Washington DC, told the Washington Post that "[y]ou could see smoke coming through the doors. It started to get scary pretty quick."
"Smoke was coming in pretty steadily. Some people were fine and some people were just hurting pretty quickly," he recalled. The authorities did not specify what the source of the smoke was.
That was easily the worst metro ride of my life pic.twitter.com/a5EnGeRzMQ— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) 12 января 2015
According to the officials, smoke began filling the tunnel as a train was leaving from the L'Enfant Plaza station to the Pentagon station. The driver failed to return the train back to the station and passengers had to wait approximately 40 minutes before firefighters arrived at the scene. However, many passengers managed to evacuate before they arrived.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is probing the incident. NTSB investigators are currently at the scene, the agency tweeted.
Investigators in the Metro tunnel in DC where today's incident occurred. pic.twitter.com/FAvljXJn3W— NTSB (@NTSB) 13 января 2015
Investigators at work in the tunnel near the site of today's Metro incident near L'Enfant Plaza. pic.twitter.com/VJVKe50RAK— NTSB (@NTSB) 13 января 2015
NTSB investigator Michael Flanigon said during a press conference late Monday that the incident allegedly happened due to electrical arcing on the third rail, with water in the tunnel probably serving as a conductive element, the New York Times reported.
Following the incident, L'Enfant Plaza station was evacuated and closed for some time, and some services on the Yellow and Green Lines were halted.
Mayor Muriel Bowser visited injured passengers at George Washington University Hospital on Monday night, expressed his condolences about the death of the passenger and thanked the rescue team that evacuated members of the public from the station.