Wed, Jan 05, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Investigation to determine cause of MRT injuries

STAIRWAY TO HELL City officials launched a probe after five passengers were hurt, two severely, while they rode a crowded escalator on New Year's Eve

STAFF WRITER

A surveillance videotape will be re-examined and mass rapid transit (MRT) employees questioned to determine whether the accidents on New Year's Eve were the result of government negligence, according to the city's transportation department.

"The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation feels that the video tape failed to capture the escalator completely and that the employees have yet to give an in-depth explanation of what happened," said Jason Lin (林志盈), commissioner of the city government's department of transportation. The transportation department had previously announced that it would fine the corporation over NT$100,000 for failure to comply with safety regulations.

Five passengers were hurt on New Year's Eve amid the crowds that packed onto trains headed to celebrations held around Taipei City Hall. Two people were seriously injured and the other three sustained minor abrasions. One female passenger's hair got caught in the escalator, causing her hair to be torn out. Her scalp was ripped in the process.

According to the corporation's safety regulations, when the number of passengers waiting for service cannot be accommodated by one train, the escalators need to be halted to prevent overcrowding on the escalator. While the MRT corporation had said that the platform was not particularly crowded on Dec. 31, the transportation department said on Monday that a surveillance video revealed that the rapid transit employees should have stopped the escalators because the platform was crowded.

Corporation president Tsay Huei-sheng (蔡輝昇) also yesterday offered his apologies, saying that the corporation would foot all the medical bills of those injured. He also said that the corporation was taking measures to prevent similar situations in the future. He said that the corporation planned to install surveillance cameras around all escalators by April and added that it was considering slowing down the escalators.

Tsay also said the passenger whose scalp had been torn required roughly 100 stitches. He had previously said the number of stitches was 10. Tsay insisted that the error had been due to the hospital's unwillingness to give the details of the passenger's condition.

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