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It Took 44 Minutes To Shut Power, Delaying Response To Smoke-Filled D.C. Metro Train

Investigators said Friday that even though Metro officials started ventilating the tunnel 10 minutes after an electrical breaker tripped, it took 44 minutes to shut power to the affected rail, delaying the emergency response. One woman died and more than 80 people suffered from smoke inhalation.

Last updated on January 16, 2015, at 5:10 p.m. ET

Posted on January 12, 2015, at 4:27 p.m. ET

Officers secure the entrance to L'Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Officers secure the entrance to L'Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C.

Federal investigators said Friday that it took D.C. transit officials 44 minutes to shut power to a subway rail line as smoke filled a train, sickening passengers.

In its preliminary report on the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said the malfunction began at 3:06 p.m. when an electrical breaker tripped. But D.C. Metro didn't shut down power to the affected rail until 3:50 p.m., according to the Associated Press, which reported the findings.

Emergency responders have said they were delayed because Metro didn't say whether the electrified third rail had been shut down.

One woman was killed and more than 80 people were sickened by the billowing smoke when the train stopped in a tunnel near the L'Enfant Plaza station on Monday.

A smoke inhalation victim receives oxygen after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza station during the evening rush hour on Monday in Washington, D.C.
AFP / Getty Images PAUL J. RICHARDS

A smoke inhalation victim receives oxygen after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza station during the evening rush hour on Monday in Washington, D.C.

D.C. commuters will face delays Tuesday morning as some trains are still suspended following an electrical malfunction that filled a subway station with smoke on Monday.

All Yellow Line service will be replaced with additional Blue Line trains, until the Yellow line returns to regular service. Other trains will be delayed, according to the WMATA website.

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Green Line: Service may be impacted Tuesday AM. Trains every 8-10 min with POSSIBLE shuttle bus replacement btwn Navy Yard & Gallery Place.

Metrorail Info@MetrorailinfoFollow

Green Line: Service may be impacted Tuesday AM. Trains every 8-10 min with POSSIBLE shuttle bus replacement btwn Navy Yard & Gallery Place.

12:13 AM - 13 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

One person has died and more than 80 others were injured Monday after Washington, D.C.'s L'Enfant metro station filled with smoke, the Washington Post reported.

Evacuated from lefant station #unsuckmetro #wmata

Lesley Lopez@LesleyJLopezFollow

Evacuated from lefant station #unsuckmetro #wmata

12:22 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Fire officials said 84 people were taken to local hospitals after they were evacuated.

Metro Box Alarm Update: 84pts. transported to area hospitals with various injuries. Over 200 people evaluated.1 firefighter injured.

DC Fire and EMS@dcfireemsFollow

Metro Box Alarm Update: 84pts. transported to area hospitals with various injuries. Over 200 people evaluated.1 firefighter injured.

4:45 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

A woman who was seriously injured in the incident died at a hospital Monday evening, the Post reported.

Update: Metro Box Alarm - 1 pt. transported with serious injuries and 5 pt. transported with minor injuries to area hospitals. #dctraffic

DC Fire and EMS@dcfireemsFollow

Update: Metro Box Alarm - 1 pt. transported with serious injuries and 5 pt. transported with minor injuries to area hospitals. #dctraffic

2:16 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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Passengers told the newspaper their train stopped in a tunnel around 3:30 p.m., then cars began to fill with smoke. After 30 to 40 minutes of being stuck, they were led through a dark tunnel by firefighters.

Multiple rescues being effected at L'Enfant Metro Station.

DC Fire Fighters L36@IAFF36Follow

Multiple rescues being effected at L'Enfant Metro Station.

4:08 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

@WTOP I was in back car on yellow line between l'enfant and Pentagon. We were let off after 45 minutes

Andrew Litwin@alitwin4Follow

@WTOP I was in back car on yellow line between l'enfant and Pentagon. We were let off after 45 minutes

1:54 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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Videos from inside the stopped train cars show people coughing. An announcement from a Metro employee advises them to stay calm.

View this video on YouTube

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View this video on YouTube

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Dozens people were treated following the incident, many for smoke inhalation.

2 people taken in critical to GWU hospital-- 40 to Howard U hospital, 22 to Washington Med Center

Marina Marraco@MarinaMarracoFollow

2 people taken in critical to GWU hospital-- 40 to Howard U hospital, 22 to Washington Med Center

3:55 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

A woman is transported in a wheelchair onto an ambulance bus as people are evacuated from a smoke-filled subway tunnel.
AP / Jacquelyn Martin

A woman is transported in a wheelchair onto an ambulance bus as people are evacuated from a smoke-filled subway tunnel.

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Smoke inhalation victims walk toward a medical aid bus after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza station during the evening rush hour on Monday.
AFP / Getty Images PAUL J. RICHARDS

Smoke inhalation victims walk toward a medical aid bus after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza station during the evening rush hour on Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday night the smoke was likely caused by an electrical arcing event.

During a media briefing outside an L'Enfant Plaza metro station entrance, the NTSB said the investigation was ongoing, but the smoke in the train was likely caused by an electrical arcing event involving the third rail and power supply cables.

The NTSB clarified that the smoke was not caused by anything inside the train or from a derailment from the track.

That was easily the worst metro ride of my life

Jonathan Rogers@JRogers202Follow

That was easily the worst metro ride of my life

1:29 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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The incident closed surrounding streets and diverted other metro trains.

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@IAFF36 Witnesses being interviewed, metro entrance still closed, streets still blocked off.

Kealy Erin Gordon@Keals2005Follow

@IAFF36 Witnesses being interviewed, metro entrance still closed, streets still blocked off.

1:21 PM - 12 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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