Updated 7:59 p.m.
A total of 84 people were hospitalized due to the Metro tunnel filling with smoke, including one patient who died, D.C. fire department spokesman Tim Wilson said.
Up until about 6:30 p.m., D.C. fire officials were saying that only six people had been injured. That number increased sharply when Metro officials briefed reporters.
Wilson would only say that the officials responsible for briefing reporters were trying to accurately tally the numbers and wanted to wait to confirm them before making public statements.
Metro Transit Police said that the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating.
Updated 6:47 p.m.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said one of the passengers injured in the tunnel incident has died. The woman has not been identified pending notification of next of kin, he said.
In addition, Sarles said two people were in critical condition at George Washington Hospital; 40 were transported by bus to Howard University Hospital, and another 20 to 25 people were taken to Washington Hospital Center.
Sarles said that since the incident involved a fatality, the Metropolitan Police Department would now be involved in the investigation.
Updated: 5:54 p.m.
Six people were injured, one critically, when smoke filled a Metro tunnel Monday afternoon.
Tim Wilson, a spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS, said one person has been transported to an area hospital with a critical injury but he did not know the cause or severity of the injury. Another five people were transported with minor injuries.
(Related: Scenes of a chaotic day at L’Enfant Plaza)
A Metrobus at 7th and D streets SW held people from the tunnel and the train station. About 20 appeared to be on board, some being treated by firefighters with oxygen.
Jonathan Rogers was aboard the Yellow Line train when it came to an abrupt halt as it headed to the Pentagon Station.
“You could see smoke coming through the doors,” he said. “It started to get scary pretty quick.”
He said the train operator got on the loudspeaker and urged people to remain calm. He said the plan was to back up the train to the platform of the L’Enfant station.
“We’re going to move the train backwards,” Rogers recalled the driver saying.
But after more time, it became apparent that strategy wasn’t going to work.
He said passengers remained relatively calm, but as the smoke grew thicker, some began to panic.
“People started praying,” he said. “Smoke was coming in pretty steadily. Some people were fine and some people were just hurting pretty quickly.”
He said a man standing next to him, started having breathing problems and sank to the floor.
Passengers watched out for each other, sharing inhalers with those who were having trouble breathing, he said. After a few more minutes, another woman standing near him said she couldn’t breathe and then passed out. Rogers and other passengers took turns giving her CPR.
“We just kept doing (CPR), maybe 25 minutes . . . we just kept going. Somebody helped carry her toward the back of the train – that was before the fire fighters arrived.”
Rogers said it took about 40 minutes before firefighters arrived and began evacuating the train. Passengers walked through the tunnel back to L’Enfant station. He said the air in the tunnel was easier to breathe than the air on the train. On the train, he said the smoked had a chemical smell, but in the tunnel it had the distinct smell of burning wood. Once they got to L’Enfant he saw a lot of ambulances and fire trucks.
Rogers, who works for the D.C. Department of Transportation, took a Capital BikeShare bike back to his office near the Navy Yard. Normally, he would have taken BikeShare back to his office, but opted to take Metro because it was raining. And then, he’d gotten aboard the Yellow Line by mistake. He meant to catch a Green Line train.
“The only scary part was not knowing if the smoke was going to stop,” he said.
Adjoa Adofo, 30, had just gotten off work as a public relations consultant and was on the Yellow line headed to Virginia to go shopping.
A few minutes after pulling out of the station and into the tunnel, she said the train came to an abrupt halt and smoke came in thorough the closed doors. She said the train was crowded but not packed, with room in the center aisle
“People were panicking,” said Adofo, who lives nearNavy Yard. “We didn’t know what to do and and we weren’t getting a lot of information.”
She said the train operator told them there was no fire, just smoke. “That calmed people down a little bit ,” she said. “But smoke continued to come in. The driver told us not to open the doors. That was the big thing. More smoke would come in. But people were panicking. They were trying up open the doors anyway.”
She said people sat down on the floor to get away from the smoke. She said all the lights were out. “It was black. Pitch black.” She said one young man suffered a seizure and an older man began banging on the doors screaming profanities.
She said they were there about 30 to 40 minutes. She said the operator told them they were waiting for a train in the station to move so they could return but communication had broken down. Finally she said metro personnel and firefighters got everyone out and they marched single fine back to the station.
Adofo emerged nearly in tears and said she prayed — Hail Marys and Our Fathers. “I’m just glad that I’m out of there.”
Saleh Damiger and Sirwan Kajjo said they thought they were “going to die” when they Yellow Line train they were on Monday afternoon filled with smoke.
Damiger, 43, and Kajjo, 28, both Voice of America employees, got on a Yellow Line train headed toward the Pentagon about 3 p.m. They said the six-car train had gone about 200 feet when it stopped. The train operator said “there’s a problem, nobody move”. The men said the car quickly began to fill will smoke.
“The train stopped and all of a sudden it filled with smoke. … There was no fire. Lots of smoke only. … People were choking. People were yelling, Damiger said. “It was a lot of smoke. We couldn’t see each other. … One woman, she started to pray. .. We felt like we were almost going to die.”
Metro employees quickly got onto the train and told passengers to get low to the ground to avoid the smoke.
“They told us to get down, get down in the floor, stay low … Of course it was dark too,” Kajjo said. “The lights were gone. We couldn’t see.”
The men said they saw at least two people who appeared to be unconscious. They said they waited about an hour before firefighters arrived and began escorting them off the train and led them out of the tunnel.
They described the experienced as “harrowing”.
No cause of the smoke has been determined. Around 5:40 p.m., Metro spokeswoman Caroline Laurin said that the smoke has now cleared from the station. That is at least in part due to the tunnel fans that Metro workers turned on, she said. But in the event that the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction – which workers have not yet confirmed – the smoke may also have abated because Metro shut down the third rail at L’Enfant Plaza.
As of 5:40 p.m., Green/Yellow line service has been restored at Gallery Place Station for service to/from stations north (toward Greenbelt). Green/Yellow service remains suspended between Gallery Place and Navy Yard/Pentagon.
Yellow Line riders traveling between Virginia and DC should use the Blue Line as an alternate.
Andrew Ames, spokesman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said the FBI responded to the incident. He said it is standard protocol to respond. “At this point it doesn’t appear to be anything other than a fire.”
L’Enfant Plaza Metro station is closed after officials evacuated it for smoke Monday afternoon, shutting down rail service for a large portion of the Green and Yellow lines.
Green Line service is suspended between Navy Yard and Mt. Vernon Square. Yellow Line service is suspended between Pentagon City and Mt. Vernon Square, Metro said.
Blue, Orange and Silver lines trains are bypassing L’Enfant Plaza, but service is not affected at other stops.
D.C. fire department spokesman Tim Wilson said that firefighters are on the scene but had found no fire. On Twitter, the firefighters’ union said that a second alarm had sounded.
Although the event has been labeled a “mass casualty event” that refers strictly to the number of people involved and is not a suggestion that there are numerous injuries or deaths. D.C. Fire and EMS reported via Twitter that people are being removed from a disabled train inside a tunnel and that no serious injuries have been reported.
Metro spokeswoman Caroline Laurin said that Metro did not know the cause of the smoke.
Roads near the station were also closed.
Yellow Line riders can use the Blue Line instead. For Green Line riders, who do not have another Metro option, Metro said at 4:16 p.m. that it was sending shuttle buses to L’Enfant Plaza and Navy Yard.
Twitter and Instagram users posted smoky photos.