On Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., the city's Metro green line, which connects its southern fringes to its northern extremities, up and stopped moving during rush hour after workers accidentally cut power to it while battling a fire. What ensued, according to one eyewitness account from a man named Scott, was a chaotic mass of thousands of sweaty bodies, vomit, urine, and panicked people smashing apart Metro cars in a desperate attempt to get fresh air (sic throughout):
The next two hours were spent in the dark on the train. An hour in, panic started to set in. In our car, one woman had passed out. We heard people pounding on windows in other cars, we heard glass breaking and people screaming. More than two hours in, folks in our car forced open the emergency door to get some air into the car. Some to actually exited and walked the tunnel. Mind you, we were in the dark somewhere under the Anacostia River. Inside the temperature was close to 90 degrees. Most people managed to get their coats off, and in some cases, even shirts came off, I was dripping with sweat, but tried to keep breathing and conserve my energy and keep calm. I did not talk much, and kept my eyes closed while standing face to face and body to body with the other sweaty passengers.
About two and a half hours, someone threw up in our car. The car also smelt of urine. I'm certain more than one person had pissed themselves. The car smelt rank, and the situation was getting out of control. Multiple emergency doors were forced open, and now passengers were wondering around in the train tunnels in the dark. The train operator came by our car, asked us to help him get the door closed and said not to open it again. He said several other doors were open and had to be closed. He had police and firemen with him. They were trying to round up everyone and get them back on the train before the fire department would give permissions to the power company to restore power to the third rail.
Never forget how near society is to anarchy every minute of every day. Sometimes it just takes a few hot subway cars.
Three people were hospitalized once power had been restored, with one listed as in serious condition. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority has said anyone it trapped Wednesday is eligible for a full refund.
[Image via Flickr user Glyn Lowe]