Thousands of passengers had to be evacuated and dozens needed medical help after a fire broke out on the subway in downtown Moscow during the morning rush-hour on Wednesday, throwing the system into chaos, transport officials said.
According to the Moscow emergencies service, the fire broke out in a tunnel between Biblioteka Imeni Lenina and Okhotny Ryad, two stations on the Moscow Metro’s oldest Sokolnicheskaya line which runs through the city center close to the Kremlin. A total of six stations on the line have been closed. Some 4,500 passengers were evacuated from the Okhotny Ryad station.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the stations because of dense smoke from the fire, which started in electrical cables. Some 47 people, including a six-year-old child, sought medical assistance. At least seven were hospitalized, according to the Emergencies Situation Ministry.
“A power cable caught fire, an evacuation is underway,” an emergency service source told RIA Novosti.
Smoke was detected inside a train moving towards the Biblioteka Imeni Lenina station, a Moscow police department spokesman said. Electricity supplies were cut off to enable firefighters to enter the tunnel. Ambulance vehicles waited outside the stations in case of casualties.
The Okhotny Ryad station, located at the depth of 15 meters (49 feet), was blanketed in smoke and the escalators were switched off, a RIA Novosti correspondent at the scene said.
The incident caused chaos on other subway lines in the city center as crowds of people were forced to change trains. The Park Kultury subway station was one of several which came to a standstill, with trains arriving unable to offload passengers due to the crowds trying to get in and out of the station. Thousands simply gave up, and started walking or taking buses and cabs.
First published in Russian in RIA Novosti.
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