More than 20 injured in Rome escalator collapse

First responders enter the underground access with stretchers to evacuate wounded persons in central Rome on Tuesday, October 23. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2018
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More than 20 injured in Rome escalator collapse

  • Media reports said witnesses spoke of football fans, seemingly drunk, jumping and dancing on the escalator just before its collapse
  • Rome’s public transport is often criticized as running on obsolete equipment

ROME: More than 20 people, mainly Russian football fans, were injured Tuesday when an escalator in a metro station in central Rome collapsed, firefighters said.
Most of those hurt, one seriously, suffered leg injuries after getting entangled in the escalator’s mangled mechanics, Italian media added.
A video of the drama shows the descending escalator at Repubblica station suddenly and dramatically pick up speed with dozens of people on it, many screaming as they piled on top of one another at the foot of the moving stairway.
Media reports said witnesses spoke of football fans, seemingly drunk, jumping and dancing on the escalator just before its collapse, but supporters denied this ever happened.
“In any event, we are here to understand what happened and to offer our support to the wounded and their families,” Rome mayor Virginia Raggi told journalists at the scene.
Some of the victims were seen wrapped in blankets and some wore neck braces as they were taken away from the scene on stretchers by emergency crews.
Several investigations have been opened, and the metro station near Rome’s Termini train station was closed.
The horrific events took place around 1730 GMT, just over an hour before the kickoff of a Champions League match between Italy’s Roma and Russian club CSKA Moscow.
The Russian fans were headed for the metro that would have linked them to the train to the stadium.
There was heightened security in Rome for some 1,500 Russian supporters, notoriously rowdy, expected to watch the game.
One Russian supporter, the subject of a stadium ban, had already been stopped at the airport as he tried to enter.
But according to Italian media, this did not prevent an assortment of incidents around the stadium hosting the match. One Russian fan was stabbed with a knife, and two others were hurt in clashes with other supporters.
Roma won the group stage match 3-0, tweeting after the match that: “The thoughts of everyone at #ASRoma are with the supporters injured prior to tonight’s game. The club will do everything it can to provide the right support and assistance to those in need.”
Red-Blue World, a CSKA fan group, set up a collection fund for those injured, as well as fans hurt in violence near the stadium.
Rome’s public transport is often criticized as running on obsolete equipment.
In recent years, more than a dozen municipal buses have caught fire while in service, with several reports of metro passengers injured by malfunctioning hardware.
And a massive bridge collapse in Genoa in August — which killed 43 people — also raised safety questions about transport infrastructure in Italy.
Incidents on escalators have caused injuries, and even deaths, around the world.
In 2015, a woman was killed after she plunged through flooring over an escalator in a Chinese department store.
Security camera footage showed a panel in the floor giving way as the woman stepped off the escalator. As she fell half-way through she pushed her son forward, and a nearby shop assistant dragged him to safety.
And in March 2017, around 20 people were injured at a Hong Kong shopping center when an escalator suddenly changed direction, sending people hurtling toward its base.


China’s Xi arrives in North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un

Updated 21 min 51 sec ago
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China’s Xi arrives in North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un

  • The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States — Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons
  • Chinese and North Korea media have said Xi would stay in Pyongyang for two days

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Thursday morning for a two-day state visit to North Korea, where he’s expected to talk with leader Kim Jong Un about the stalled negotiations with Washington over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported that Xi was accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, and several Communist Party officials. He is the first Chinese president to visit North Korea in 14 years.
The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States — Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons.
A Xinhua commentary said China could play a unique and constructive role in breaking the cycle of mistrust between North Korea and the US so they can work out a roadmap to achieve denuclearization.
The US is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons development before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which a step toward its denuclearization would be matched by a concession from the US, notably a relaxation of economic sanctions.
China backs what it calls a “suspension for suspension” proposal. The Xinhua said both sides “need to have reasonable expectations and refrain from imposing unilateral and unrealistic demands.”
Experts say Xi will likely endorse North Korea’s calls for an incremental disarmament process.
Chinese and North Korea media have said Xi would stay in Pyongyang for two days. His meeting with Kim would their fifth summit since Kim entered nuclear diplomacy with the United States and South Korea early last year.
In an essay published in both countries’ official media before his trip, Xi praised North Korea for moving in the “right direction” by politically resolving issues on the peninsula. He did not mention Kim’s nuclear diplomacy with the US in the article, much of which focused on lauding the neighbors’ seven-decade relationship. Xi said his visit will “strengthen strategic communication and exchange” between the traditional, though sometimes strained, allies.
The nations fought together in the 1950-53 Korean War against the United States, South Korea and their allies, but there has been friction in recent years, especially over the North’s relentless push for nuclear weapons.