At least four people were killed Monday when a Moscow passenger bus veered off a major thoroughfare and plunged into a crowded pedestrian underpass, according to reports.
Dramatic footage broadcast on national TV showed the bus leaving one of the Russian capital’s busiest roads and going down a flight of stairs, where it ran over several people.
“Four persons died and one of them is a child,” an emergency services official told the Tass news agency. “Their bodies have been taken to a forensic morgue in Tsaristyno.”
Authorities did not suspect that the incident, which also injured about a dozen people, was linked to terrorism.
Health officials said four people were killed while interior ministry spokesman Col Yuri Titov said the accident claimed five lives, the BBC reported.
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The accident happened about 2:50 p.m. local time near the Slavyansky Boulevard metro station in a high-end residential area on the west end.
“Nine people are currently in the city’s clinics … four people died on the spot,” Moscow City Hall said in a statement on its website, according to Agence France-Presse.
All of the dead and injured were pedestrians, authorities said.
Moscow police said they were investigating two possible causes — the driver losing control of the bus and a technical malfunction with the vehicle.
“The driver of the bus began movement and then changed his trajectory, which resulted in the bus going down into the pedestrian underpass,” police said in a statement.
“The driver has been detained. Police employees are working with him,” the statement said.
The driver has been working for the bus company for 17 years and received his license more than 30 years ago, officials said.
The Russian Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the driver told authorities that the bus was parked and suddenly took off by itself.
“Despite his attempts to stop the bus, the braking system did not work and the bus continued moving,” according to the committee.
A preliminary examination showed the driver was sober, news agencies said.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted: “There are dead and wounded. We are providing emergency aid.”
Sobyanin visited the scene and told journalists he had ordered a full inspection of the entire Moscow bus fleet.
The Interfax news agency reported that the bus was less than a year old.
Monday was an ordinary working day in Russia, where Orthodox Christmas will be celebrated on Jan. 7.
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