A fire broke out at the Okhotny Ryad Metro station in downtown Moscow, injuring several people and prompting a mass evacuation of commuters.
At least 45 were hurt in the incident, with that number expected to grow as evacuees consult medics, reported Viktor Biryukov, a spokesperson for the capital’s emergencies service. Seven of them were taken to hospital, he said.
Doctors at Sklifosovsky trauma clinic say the two patients admitted – a 6-year-old boy and a 63-year-old woman – are in satisfactory condition.
Biryukov added that some 4,500 people have been evacuated from the Metro. Some trains were stopped inside a tunnel when the flames erupted. All stranded passengers and Metro employees have been rescued, and the evacuation ended about an hour after the incident started.
The fire broke out at approximately 9:04am Moscow time (05:04 GMT), and firefighters managed to quickly douse the blaze. The facilities affected by smoke are being ventilated.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, but a preliminary investigation indicates a technical failure in a power line inside a tunnel, the spokesperson said.
The fire seriously disrupted transportation in Moscow during morning rush hour. Several nearby stations had to close and urge passengers to leave and seek an alternate means to get to their destination.
Authorities have blocked ground traffic at one of the streets near Okhotny Ryad station to allow ambulances and fire brigades to arrive.
Tens of thousands of morning commuters were late for work due to the incident.
City authorities have deployed 36 extra buses and trolleys to compensate for the increased load on the public transit system.
The Moscow department of transportation says it plans to reopen the affected Metro line by 1:30pm local time (09:30 GMT).