A woman has died and 83 more were hospitalised after thick smoke filled a busy subway train during rush hour in Washington DC on Monday.
The emergency services were called in to evacuate hundreds of travellers as reports came in that a Virginia-bound Yellow Line train had become engulfed in smoke after stopping just 800 metres from the L'Enfant Plaza station in the south-west of the city.
Reports said that the smoke had caused many passengers to choke, with some even losing consciousness.
Video: Watch footage from one of the subway carriages
Passenger Saleh Damiger told an The Washington Post that the smoke was so thick that passengers couldn’t see one another and that some on board the train believed that they were going to die.
Authorities later confirmed that one unidentified woman had died, while two of the 83 hospitalised passengers were still in a critical condition.
Metro chiefs confirmed that there had been no fire in the tunnel but in a statement immediately after the incident they said that they were still unsure as to what exactly had caused the smoke.
A late night briefing from the National Transportation Safety Board, suggested that “an electrical malfunction” in front of the train had generated the smoke.
According to some passengers, it had taken fire fighters as much as an hour before they were able to escort those on the train back to the station.
Eugene A Jones, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services chief, did admit that there was a slight delay due to confusion over whether one of the lines was still electrified; however, he said it was “nothing like” the length of time suggested.
Investigations by the NTSB were on-going.Reuse content