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Football fans injured in ‘apocalyptic’ Rome escalator collapse

in Rome

Tue 23 Oct 2018 18.28 EDT First published on Tue 23 Oct 2018 15.35 EDT

Authorities in Rome have launched two investigations after 24 fans of the CSKA Moscow football team were injured when a crowded escalator suddenly sped up then collapsed, hurling people down the staircase.

One of the fans, who was in the Italian capital for his team’s Champions League game against AS Roma, had his foot amputated in the incident at Repubblica station on Tuesday evening in what one witness described as “a scene from an apocalypse”.

Firefighters worked for around an hour to remove fans trapped between the metal plates of the escalator’s steps. Many of the injured were treated at the scene.

Emergency services outside the Repubblica – Teatro dell’Opera station on Tuesday evening

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Emergency services outside the Repubblica – Teatro dell’Opera station on Tuesday evening. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

RAI, the state television broadcaster, aired a video of the incident, showing the escalator suddenly accelerating, with people piling up at the bottom. The top part of the escalator remained mostly intact, while several steps at the bottom completely collapsed.

“I just witnessed a scene from an apocalypse,” said the witness. “An escalator, one metre from me, began to accelerate as if it was going crazy … what is happening in this city?”

The station was full of Russian fans at the time as they headed towards Rome’s Olympic Stadium for the football match.

Italian media reported that the escalator broke after singing and chanting fans started to jump up and down on it. Beer bottles were found at the bottom.

“There has certainly been a failure of the escalator,” Rome’s chief firefighter, Giampietro Boscaino, said. “But we cannot say how it happened. It’s a strange incident.”

The investigations have been opened by Rome’s public prosecutor and Atac, the company responsible for the city’s public transport system. The metro station has been closed.

“Now we need to understand what happened,” Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, said at the scene. “We are available for the injured and their families.”

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