Yesterday around 5 p.m., two metros on D.C.’s red line collided, leaving seven nine people dead and over 70 injured. According to The Washington Post:
One Metro train slammed into the back of another on the Red Line at the height of the evening rush yesterday, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 70 others in the deadliest accident in Metrorail’s 33-year-history.
D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said cadaver dogs were also being used, and the wooded areas on either side of the tracks had been thoroughly searched for any surviving or dead victims. Earlier media reports had put the death toll as high as nine. A total of 76 people were taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries that ranged from minor to critical.
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said this morning that seven people were confirmed dead in the crash, and two others remain in critical condition after being hospitalized overnight. He said rescue crews were using heavy equipment to search through the crushed rail cars for any possible remaining victims, and hoped to be able to say definitively by late afternoon whether there were additional casualties.
Perhaps most worrisome about all of this is that this exact situation was supposed to be impossible:
Metro was designed with a fail-safe computerized signal system that is supposed to prevent trains from colliding. The agency’s trains are run by onboard computers that control speed and braking. Another electronic system detects the position of trains to maintain a safe distance between them. If they get too close, the computers automatically apply the brakes, stopping the trains.
When all else fails, the operator of a Metro train is able to slam on the brakes to prevent a crash, but it seems that in this case, the operator of the train that crashed never braked.
We’ll keep you posted as more news comes out, and until then, we’ll all be thinking about those involved and their families.
UPDATE (6/24): Read more about what officials are speculating about the crash, along with some stories about victims, in this morning’s New York Times article.
UPDATE (6/25): Metro officials seem to think that a faulty circuit may have caused the crash, says The Washington Post.
[Posted by Mallory]