Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Rome metro accident kills one

RED MEANS STOP A rider said that his metro train left a station 'when there was a red light,' but Rome officials refused to speculate about the cause of the accident

AP , ROME

Rescue workers carry a stretcher with an injured man from an subway station in Rome yesterday. A subway train standing at a station was hit by another train in central Rome, killing one person and causing dozens of injuries, reports said.

PHOTO: EPA

A speeding subway train rammed into another train halted at a station in central Rome during the morning rush hour yesterday, killing at least one person and injuring over 100.

Atac, Rome's public transport company, said one train was stopped in the station when it was hit from behind by another traveling at a high speed. Some passengers said the driver of the second train appeared to have run a red light.

Fire department spokesman Giorgio Alocci told Sky television that two people had died, but government officials later said only the death of one woman had been confirmed. Authorities identified the victim as a 30-year-old Italian woman.

The driver of the moving train was trapped in the rubble, but was pulled out alive. Earlier reports said he had died at the hospital, but that was later denied.

Television footage showed stunned and bloodied passengers being led out of the station, while onlookers watched from behind police lines. Witnesses said that thick black smoke filled the station, and panicked passengers screamed and ran for their lives.

The prefect's office said that 110 people had been taken to hospitals, and that five were in serious condition.

"People in my carriage were sprawled all over the floor crying and screaming," said Kahn Jaris Hassan, a 29-year-old native of India, who was on the oncoming train but emerged unharmed.

"Inside there were many people covered in blood shouting for help, many too injured to walk," said the man, speaking at the San Giovanni hospital, where he was waiting for a friend to be treated.

Officials said the most seriously injured and the dead had been in the last carriage of the halted train.

Ambulances, firefighters and rescue teams rushed to the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II subway station, near Rome's main railway station, following the 9am crash. Rescue workers set up a field hospital nearby, where they treated dozens with light injuries.

"For now, we don't know about any more people trapped, but we can't rule it out," said a Rome fire department spokesman Luca Cari. "We are untangling the two trains, the oncoming one went 2-3m into the carriage of the stopped train."

Passenger Andrew Trovaioli, 38, said one of the trains appeared to have missed a stop light.

"I saw the red light as the train moved into the station," Trovaioli said. "I saw lots of blood, the impact was brutal," said Trovaioli, who suffered a slight injury to his elbow. He said he saw about 10 people lying on the ground, and three or four covered in rubble.

"There was panic for some 30 seconds. We were not told how to get out," he said.

One passenger told Sky Italia that lights went out immediately after the crash. Another passenger in the first carriage of the moving train said he saw the accident unfold through the driver's front window.

"I saw clearly the red light. I saw the situation, that the metro ahead of us was stopped at the station," said the unidentified passenger, adding that he managed to escape serious injury because he stepped back just seconds before the impact crushed the front of his car.

The cause of the accident was not known. Atac said the station remained closed.

The Rome Film Festival said in a news release that screenings and news conferences would open with a moment of silence, and that all side events were being canceled out of respect for the victims.

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