December 13, 2013
Platform 2 grabbed by fear and rage
Scenes of desperation at Once station after yesterday’s train crash
A sense of rage invaded Once station yesterday when Platform 2 was again the scene of a severe train crash.
The faces of commuters at Once station reflected pain and disorientation, but also frustration.
Police officers, firefighters and medics rushed in and out of the crushed train repeatedly with trained dogs in a bid to rescue victims.
At the platforms, dozens of people became aggressive. The insults they hurled were not directed at a specific person. They were meant for everybody: the government, the engine driver, the Sarmiento line managers, the employees and the police. The rage was close to turning into a riot with the police trying to protect the scene of the accident. The media networks were reporting nobody was killed, but at the scene soon after the crash nobody could be certain that this was so. And what clearly exacerbated the mood of commuters at Once station was that yet another crash had been allowed to happened.
Doctors rescue victims
The station was in havoc an hour after the crash. A man was lying on the floor while two doctors were assisting him. A few metres from there, a young girl cried while a man was trying to comfort her. “It was just a scare, take it easy. You will be fine, just need to relax,” he was telling her.
Another man was assisted by two nurses of the municipal emergency service SAME. They were rushing him to an ambulance.
“The train didn’t stop at Flores and Caballito stations so we were wondering what had happened. That is not common. The carriage I was travelling on wasn’t crowded, but the people flew all over the place when the crash happened. That was an awful moment. The train was speeding. I have no doubt about it. No one can tell me it wasn’t because I am a first-hand witness,” Christian Basso said to media.
In the middle of that desolate atmosphere one of the most dramatic moments of the morning came when BA City Health Minister Graciela Reybaud released a casualty list. As soon as she finished different reactions were audible: sighs of relief in some and cries of anxiety in others.
Many people crossed over to the station to ask about relatives and friends. A man of about 60 years was searching desperately for his wife. As soon as he heard her name on the list he rushed out of the station. Two girls embraced each other. Both were crying at having survived. They both know that the outcome could have been different.
Motorman under scrutiny
The performance of the motorman was the main point of discussion once the situation had calmed down.
“I didn’t hear the brakes; suddenly I was pushed toward the next seat. Luckily I am not injured. But I swear the motorman didn’t use the brakes properly,” Candela Velazco said while she talked with a police officer about the quality of the service.
Marianela Frasco witnessed the crash from the very start. “I was working at a store here at the station when I heard a loud noise. I rushed to the platform and when I saw the train embedded in the buffers I thought the worst had happened again. You should have heard the noise. It was like an explosion,” she said.
Luz Candia said that the first carriage hit some turnstiles. “A lot of people started to hit the cabin while they shouted against the motorman. That was very intense. If the police had not arrived at that moment I don’t know what could have happened,” she added describing the rage that hit commuters the first minutes after the crash.
Anabella Fernández, a woman who didn’t know about the crash until she arrived at the station like she does every Saturday on her way to visit her mother in Castelar, said: “apart from the danger we face every time we travel on this train, no one from the company is telling us when the service will be working again. It’s hard to believe.”