Technical breakdown suspected in Berlin subway fire : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Technical breakdown suspected in Berlin subway fire July 9, 2000 Web posted at: 1:21 PM EDT (1721 GMT)

BERLIN (AP) -- A Berlin subway fire that set off panic among hundreds of riders and injured about 30 probably was caused by a technical defect, transit officials said Sunday.

The smoky blaze broke out Saturday afternoon in two cars of a train stopped at a western Berlin underground station. The line, one of the city's oldest, was in heavy use throughout the day by people attending a huge open-air dance party, the Love Parade.

Witnesses said many passengers who bolted from the burning car ran around the Deutsche Oper station shouting and crying before firefighters arrived to lead them out through exits. Others fled along the tracks to the next station. About 30 people were treated for smoke inhalation and suspected broken bones.

"We were lucky," Ruediger vorm Walde, head of the Berlin transit authority, said on local television. He said investigating authorities are focusing on the possibility of a technical breakdown. Other transit officials ruled out arson.

Firefighters needed 90 minutes to put out the blaze. The gutted, blackened coaches were later towed out of the station, which was also damaged and remained closed Sunday. Officials put the damage at 4 million marks ($2 million).

-- Martin Thompson (, July 09, 2000

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