Nine dead in DC Metro crash

23.6.09

The subway train that plowed into another, causing a crash that killed seven and injured scores of others in the nation's capital, was part of an aging fleet that federal officials had sought to phase out due to safety concerns, an investigator said Tuesday.

But the Metrorail transit system "was not able to do what we asked them to do," and the old trains kept running despite the 2006 warnings, said Debbie Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The rush-hour crashed sent more than 70 people to area hospitals and killed at least seven people. The three-decades-old Metro system, a pride of the District of Colombia tourism industry, shuttles tourists and local commuters from Washington to Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced Tuesday that seven had died in the crash. Earlier, the District of Columbia Fire Department Web site announced that three bodies had been found in addition to the six fatalities reported Monday.

Fenty said two victims were hospitalized in critical condition.
Hersman said investigators expect to recover recorders from the train was struck, providing valuable information that might help determine why the crash occurred. But the train triggered the collision was part of an old "thousand-series" fleet that was not equipped with the devices, she said at a news conference.

Earlier, Hersman told The Associated Press that the NTSB had warned in 2006 that there were safety problems related to trains rolling back on their tracks.
"When the train rolled back, the operator was not able to stop it," she said. Hersman said the NTSB recommended that the thousand-series fleet be phased out or retrofitted to make them more crashworthy.

(The Huffington Post)
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