MANILA, Philippines - At least 38 passengers were injured when a wayward Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) train overshot the tracks at the Taft Avenue station at the corner of Edsa and Taft Avenue in Pasay City around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The passengers were injured because of the impact and were rushed to San Juan de Dios and Pasay City General hospitals, said Senior Superintendent Florencio Teodosio Ortilla, the Pasay City police chief.
The train, which had broken down at the Magallanes station and had become nonoperational, was being pushed by an operational train toward Taft Avenue, the last station on the MRT line.
How it happened
In a radio interview, MRT spokesman Hernando Cabrera said that as the second train was pushing the first, the coupler between the two broke, causing the first train to ram into the metal stopper, which gave way.
The train then broke through the metal railings at the end of the station and hit a lamppost, which fell to the ground because of the impact. A motorcycle parked right outside the station was crushed.
Around 38 passengers were wounded or suffered fractures and other injuries, said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
The standard operating procedure should have been to let passengers on the first train get off before it was pushed to the next station.
Cabrera said that because the first train had broken down due to technical difficulties, the automatic brake kicked in, a built-in safety feature to prevent runaway trains.
The brake was deactivated to allow the second train to push the first one forward so it could be brought to Taft for inspection.
The second train had to unload passengers at Magallanes station in order to push the first train. The whole procedure was standard MRT operation authorised by the assigned duty officer at the control centre in Quezon City, Cabrera said.
Since the first train did not have its brakes on when the uncoupling happened, it freewheeled past the end of the rail and metal barrier, Cabrera added.
A video of the accident obtained by INQUIRER.net showed some passengers scampering to safety.
Abaya said police and MRT management were still investigating to see if the accident was caused by human or technical error. They were checking if the coupler was engaged properly before the trains ran or if it had uncoupled while the two trains were running.
It is also worth noting that the portion from Magallanes to Taft Avenue stations is a downward ride.