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1 Dead, Over 100 Hurt in Rome Subway Crash

October 18, 2006

ROME (AP) _ A subway train plowed into another that was stopped in a central Rome station during rush hour Tuesday morning, killing one person and injuring more than 100 as passengers screamed and ran for the exits.

Some witnesses said the driver of the moving train appeared to have run a red light. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the crash.

Thick, black smoke filled the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II subway station, and panicked passengers ran after the crash, witnesses said. Stunned and bloodied passengers were led from the station, according to TV video.

``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 in the moving train.

``Inside there were many people covered in blood shouting for help, many too injured to walk,″ Hassan said at San Giovanni Hospital, where he was waiting for a friend to be treated.

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

The driver of the moving train was trapped in the rubble, but was pulled out alive.

Authorities said the person killed was a 30-year-old Italian woman. She and the most seriously injured had been in the last car of the halted train.

Ambulances, firefighters and rescue teams rushed to the station, near Rome’s main railway station. Rescue workers set up a field hospital nearby, where they treated dozens of people.

Rescuers worked to untangle the wreckage. The moving train had pushed 6-9 feet into the stopped train, said fire department spokesman Luca Cari.

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 elbow injury. He said he saw about 10 people 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 impact.

Officials investigating the cause were trying to determine if human error was to blame or if something had gone wrong with signaling at the station.

An official with Met.Ro, the company that runs Rome’s subway, said the driver had been authorized to run a red light by the subway’s traffic center.

The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press and asked that his name not be used, said the move was routine when traffic is heavy, and allows the driver to proceed with caution at a maximum speed of 9 mph.

The driver told investigators who questioned him in a Rome hospital that he remembered nothing.

Interior Minister Giuliano Amato hinted at a possible malfunction of the mechanical system, but stressed it was too soon to determine the cause. Atac, Rome’s public transport company, said the station remained closed.


Associated Press Writer Ariel David in Rome contributed to this report.

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