MOSCOW – A subway train derailed Tuesday deep below Moscow’s streets, twisting and mangling crowded rail cars at the height of the morning rush hour. At least 21 people were killed, Russian officials said, and 136 were hospitalized, many with serious injuries.
The Russian capital’s airports and transit systems have been a prime target for terrorists over the past two decades, but multiple officials vigorously dismissed terrorism as a possible cause.
The Moscow Metro is world-famous for its palatial interiors with mosaics, chandeliers and marble benches. Park Pobedy, where the derailment occurred, is Moscow’s deepest metro station – 275 feet below the surface – which made the rescue particularly difficult. The station serves the vast park where Russia’s World War II museum is located.
It was unclear what caused the train to derail. Lines of inquiry included a fault in one of the cars or the sinking of the roadbed, according to Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s top investigative body. He said other officials who said earlier that a power surge triggered an alarm, causing the train to stop abruptly, were incorrect.
Of the 136 people hospitalized, at least 42 were in grave condition, health officials said. One citizen of China and one citizen of Tajikistan were among those killed, Russian news agencies quoted city officials as saying.
Over 1,100 people were evacuated from the train, which was stuck between two stations, in a rescue operation that ended more than 12 hours after the accident. One woman taken from the scene died at a Moscow hospital.
In video released by the Emergency Situations Ministry, several wrecked train cars looked almost coiled, occupying the entire width of the tunnel.