Search continues for bodies at Washington metro crash site

June 23rd, 2009 - 3:09 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

DC train crash At least nine people have been killed and more than 70 others injured after a Washington D.C. metro train plowed into the back of a stationary one at the height of the evening rush hour.

Rescue workers remain onsite gingerly working their way through the wreckage looking for more victims, as Washington D.C. fire officials lambast Metrorail’s handling of the accident.

Washington D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said, “A little after five o’clock we responded to what was believed to be a small incident.”

It wasn’t until after the first crews arrived on scene that they realized the magnitude of the crash – which saw one train end up on top of the other – and were able to summon the sort of help needed.

According to Rubin, fire officials eventually sounded three alarms, summoning hundreds of rescuers and implementing their mass- casualty operation plan.

A press release issued by the Metro more than 30 minutes after the crash stated that a train on the Red Line had derailed when in fact what had occurred was a high-speed head-to-tail collision.

Authorities are at a loss to explain the cause of the crash, the deadliest in Metrorail’s 33-year history, but already investigators are looking at human error and signaling as potential causes.

Questions are also being raised as to why a system designed to bring a train to a stop if another was in its path had failed to operate.

Washing D.C. Mayor, Adrian Fenty, told CNN’s Larry King Live one car was “about 75 percent compressed. We just haven’t been able to cut through it to see if there’s bodies in there.”

Passengers on the train that hit the stationary one described it as “like we hit a concrete wall.”

Another said, “Almost immediately, I fell off my seat. Another person – I don’t know who – flew off their seat. And the lights went off and smoke started filling the train car.”

Another said, he looked toward the front of the car, and when the smoke cleared, “all you could see was sky.”

The crash occurred just before 5 p.m. on an above-ground track in the District of Columbia near the border with Takoma Park, Maryland.

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