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Bucharest’s Lujerului Underpass three-tram collision leaves 86 injured

Seven of the victims are hospitalised in severe condition, the rest are out of harm’s way. Child among victims. Tram line 41 and car traffic in the area deadlocked for seven hours.

Three 41 line trams collided in the Lujerului Underpass, in Bucharest yesterday morning. According to Bogdan Oprita, coordinator of the Emergency Mobile Reanimation and Extrication Service (SMURD), the collision resulted in 86 people being injured, of whom 37 were taken to hospital by SMURD crews and 15 went to medical units on their own feet. Three victims are reported in serious condition. Early information shows that the first tram involved in the chain collision broke down, the tram behind managed to stop, yet a third didn’t and crashed into the first two.  The collision led to the second and third trams going off the track, according to press communique by the Bucharest Public Transport Authority (RATB).The accident took place during rush hour, 7:30 am, when trams are chockfull of people going to work and children, to school. No less than 15 medical emergency crews arrived at the scene, along with an intensive care ambulance and an ambulance for transporting the victims with multiple traumatisms. Buses, too, were sent to provide transportation to gridlocked passengers.The injured were rushed to three of Bucharest’s emergency hospitals: University, Floreasca and Elias. The most heavily injured victims, 12, were admitted to Floreasca Hospital. Among them, the second tram’s driver, who is listed in serious condition. A child is among the victims. He was taken to the Grigore Alexandrescu Hospital by ambulance.According to University Hospital spokesman, Dr. Bogdan Oprita, 34 people were admitted to the emergency room at the hospital for various injures including broken limbs, contusions and chest traumas. So far, only two victims have been admitted to hospital, with the remaining undergoing clinical investigations. Six more were taken to Floreasca Hospital.The Labour Inspectorate (IM) has opened an investigation, this being considered a collective work accident involving the tram drivers and people going to work “We are looking into the case from the aspect of how this event happened and its causes. We also ordered an expert examination into the case, yet, we are yet to learn whether it was human error or the equipment being out of order that caused the accident. Two suppositions are on the table: human error and malfunctioning equipment,” IM head Dantes Nicolae Bratu explained.RATB officials however say the distance between trams was small, so that the collision could not have been avoided despite the train drives pressing the brakes. A train driver who opted to remain anonymous sent Antena3 the following e-mail: “What I can tell you is we are coerced by our bosses to go on route despite the trams being some wrecks actually, we are threatened with losing our jobs unless we do so. It is not only passengers’ lives that are at risk, but ours as well. These trams should have been scrapped at least 10 years ago!” RATB however rules out the tram brakes being out of order given they have not one but four braking systems that are checked on a daily basis. The injured passengers will receive damages from RATB.     Traffic was restricted in the area, with both traffic lanes being closed between the districts of Militari and Crangasi. RATB made available to passengers special bus lines meant to replace the 41 trams. During rush hours, over 6,000 people are estimated to ride on the tram hourly.

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