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2012 Buenos Aires rail disaster

2012 Buenos Aires rail disaster
The train after crashing
Details
Date22 February 2012
08:33 ART
LocationBuenos Aires
Coordinates34°36′31″S 58°24′27″W / 34.60861°S 58.40750°W / -34.60861; -58.40750
CountryArgentina
LineSarmiento Line
OperatorTrenes de Buenos Aires
Incident typeTrain wreck
CauseMotorman error, brake failure
Statistics
Trains1
Deaths51[1]
Injured703[2]
Location of the Once railway station

The 2012 Buenos Aires rail disaster, also known as the Once Tragedy, occurred on 22 February 2012, when a train crashed at Once Station (Spanish: Estación Once de Septiembre; IPA: [ˈonse]) in the Balvanera neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

There were about 1,000 passengers on board when the crowded eight-carriage train, whose working brakes were not activated, hit the buffers at the end of the line, crushing the motor carriage and the following two carriages, after approaching the station at a speed of 26 km/h (16 mph). Fifty-one people were killed and more than 700 were injured;[1] the dead and seriously injured were in the first two carriages,[3] which were packed with people who had moved to the front of the train to be near the station exit on arrival.

The Sarmiento Line, on which the incident occurred, was operated by Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA), owned by the Cirigliano brothers. It was the second fatal accident on the line within six months, following the 2011 Flores rail crash, and the third-deadliest train accident in Argentina's history, after the Benavídez rail disaster in 1970 (which left 236 dead and 368 injured) and the Sa Pereira rail disaster in 1978 (which left 55 dead).[4]

Incident

Train number 16 was operating the Sarmiento Line local service 3772 from Moreno to Once during the morning rush hour on the first working day after a Carnival holiday.[5][6] The train was reported to be traveling too fast — about 50 km/h (30 mph) — on entry to the station.[7] It failed to stop before the end of the track at Once Station and at 8:33 ART crashed into the buffer stops at a speed of 20 km/h (12 mph).[8] The motor carriage and the following two carriages were crushed;[9] the second carriage was telescoped 7 metres (23 ft) into the first.[3] Several passengers described the impact as an explosion.[10]

Emergency response

President of Argentina Mauricio Macri congratulating the team that worked in the rescue

Several ambulances were in the area at the time of the accident, waiting for a ship that had suffered an influenza B outbreak, and were used to transport victims to nearby hospitals.[6] People with minor injuries left the accident zone on foot.[6] According to the city's head of civil defence, the rescue was difficult because the hard and complicated structure of the carriages made the task of removing the wreckage difficult.[6]

The train driver survived the crash; he was rescued and evacuated in an ambulance. It took many people to free him from the wreckage.[6] He was not seriously injured, and a test for blood alcohol content gave a negative result.[11]

The Sarmiento Line did not resume normal operation for several hours. People demanding the reopening of the line threw bottles, sticks and chairs at federal police and soldiers guarding the crash site, though police regained control within a few minutes.[6]

Fifty-one people, including three children, were confirmed dead. More than 700 others were injured.[1] The crash scene and audio logs were examined to determine the cause of the accident.[12]

Reactions

Domestic

Minister of Planning and Public Investment Julio de Vido (left) and Secretary of Transport Juan Pablo Schiavi (right) were two of the politicians prosecuted as responsibles for the tragedy

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner declared two days of national mourning and suspended the Carnival festivities. Mauricio Macri, the chief of government of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires, and the governor of Buenos Aires Province, Daniel Scioli, did the same.[13]

Secretary of Transport Juan Pablo Schiavi announced that the government will investigate the accident. He reported that the driver was well rested at the time of the accident and had very good labour reports. The train's and station's black box and the security tapes were handed to a Federal Judge.[14] Minister of Planning and Public Investment Julio de Vido announced that the presidency would initiate a lawsuit against TBA, the owners of the Sarmiento line,[15] but that was not accepted by the Justice Department, arguing that government officials could also have broad responsibilities in the accident.[16]

The Radical Civic Union proposed the impeachment of Schiavi, requesting explanations about the state of railway lines, and pointing to previous complaints about the lack of proper state control over the working of the lines.[17] They also urged Congress to create a commission to investigate the case and the responsibilities of the government.[18] The Civic Coalition criticized De Vido's announcement, pointing out that the state cannot be plaintiff as it is involved in the case.[19] The General Confederation of Labour complained about the overall poor condition of the railways, saying that the accident highlighted the problem.[17] The Argentine Workers' Central Union requested the removal of the TBA administration of the train.[19]

International

Manifestation asking justice in February 2013

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom regretted the incident and expressed its condolences to the "families of the victims" and the "emergency agencies that are still working to aid" those in the accident.[20] The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico sent its condolences to the "sister country of Argentina" and hoped for the "speedy recovery of the families and those injured."[21] Pope Benedict XVI sent his condolences.[22]

Investigation

Initially a union leader said that the train had been working well, and there had been no problems with the brakes at previous stations.[citation needed] Some passengers reported the same.[10] The driver, 28-year-old Marcos Antonio Córdoba, was taken into custody but later released by the investigating judge over the objections of the prosecutor after declaring under oath "I tried to brake twice, but the mechanism failed." He also activated the hand brake, which also failed.[1] A judicial source said Cordoba told investigators: "At each station he advised the dispatcher by radio that he had problems with the brakes." He reportedly said he was told to keep going.[23]

An event in Plaza de Mayo was arranged for 22 February 2014, to mark the second anniversary of the crash.[24]

Trial

The "5†1" logo displaying the number of victims in the accident became popular in manifestations and other public acts asking for justice

On March 18, 2014, the trial began before the Federal Oral Criminal Court No. 2 (TOCF2), made up of judges Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu, Jorge Alberto Tassara and Jorge Luciano Gorini.[25]

In the trial, two facts were judged: on the one hand, the accident, with its sequel of deaths and injuries, and on the other hand, whether there was fraudulent administration in the administration of the railway company and ministerial management.[26]

The trial lasted almost two years. Among the most relevant acts is the court's decision to reject the conclusions of four of the six experts (engineers Horacio Faggiani, Julio César Pastine, Alejandro Héctor Leonetti and Raúl Díaz) and request that they be prosecuted for false testimony, which Judge Bonadío did.[27] In this context, the expert engineer Leonetti was arrested by the court.[28] Two years later the four experts would be acquitted.[29]

On 29 December 2015, the sentence was issued, resulting in the conviction of 21 people and the acquittal of seven. Sergio Cirigliano, one of the owners of TBA, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Juan Pablo Schiavi, former Secretary of Transportation, was sentenced to eight years in prison and a lifelong ban on public office. Ricardo Jaime, another former Secretary of Transportation, got six years of prison and the same ban. Marcos Córdoba, the driver, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and also banned from driving trains for six years.[30][31]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Declaró el maquinista y fue excarcelado: "Intenté frenar dos veces, pero el mecanismo falló"" ["I tried to stop twice, but the mechanism failed" said the driver after the release]. Clarín (in Spanish). 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Identificaron a los 50 fallecidos en Plaza Miserere" [50 Dead bodies were identified in Plaza Miserere]. Clarín (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b Rozenwasser, Einat (25 February 2012). "Un operativo que resultó eficaz pero que ahora revela fallas". Clarín (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  4. ^ "El tercer accidente ferroviario más grave en la historia del país" [The third worst rail accident in the country's history]. La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Tragedia ferroviaria en Once: ya son 50 los muertos y hay 703 heridos" [Once rail tragedy: Already 50 dead and 703 wounded]. Infobae (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Descarrilo un tren en Once y hay varios heridos" [Several wounded when the train derails in Once]. La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  7. ^ Warren, Michael (24 February 2012). "Argentine train slams into station, killing 49". Arab News. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  8. ^ A 10 años de la tragedia de Once: qué determinó la Justicia sobre los frenos del Chapa 16 on TN, 22 Feb 2022
  9. ^ "Forty Dead, Up to 550 Injured in Argentine Train Crash". RIA Novosti. 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Se sintió una explosión terrible" [A terrible explosion was felt]. La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  11. ^ "El test de alcoholemia realizado al maquinista dio negativo". La Nación (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  12. ^ Lavieri, Omar (29 February 2012). "En el juzgado salieron a decir que el peritaje no tiene plazos". Clarín (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  13. ^ "El gobierno nacional decretó duelo y suspendió el carnaval" [The national government declares mourning and suspends the Carnival]. La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  14. ^ "Schiavi: "Si ocurría ayer hubiera sido una cosa mucho menor"". La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  15. ^ "El Gobierno se presentará como querellante y no descartó medidas administrativas". La Nación (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Rechazan que el Estado sea querellante en la causa por la tragedia de Once". www.lanacion.com.ar. 26 August 2013. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. ^ a b "La CGT expresó su solidaridad con las víctimas del accidente" [The CGT expresses solidarity with the victims of the accident]. La Nación (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  18. ^ "Tras la tragedia, exigen al oficialismo que constituya una Comisión de Transporte". La Nación (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  19. ^ a b "La CC pedirá juicio político a De Vido por la tragedia" [The CC asked for De Vido's impeachment after the tragedy]. La Nación (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  20. ^ "Reino Unido lamenta accidente de tren en Argentina" [UK regrets Argentinian train crash]. BBC News (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  21. ^ "México lamenta el trágico accidente ocurrido en Argentina". Presidencia de la República (in Spanish). 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  22. ^ "El Papa se manifestó "profundamente afligido" por la tragedia argentina" [The Pope said he was "deeply distressed" by the Argentinian tragedy]. La Nación (in Spanish). 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  23. ^ "'Faulty brakes caused' Argentina train crash". Al Jazeera. 26 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  24. ^ "Interview with mother of crash victim (Spanish)". Socialist Workers' Party. 20 February 2014.
  25. ^ Tragedia de Once: con 29 acusados, arrancó el juicio on Ambito, March 18, 2014
  26. ^ Tragedia de Once: el tribunal oral dio a conocer los fundamentos de la sentencia, 30 March 2016
  27. ^ Tragedia de Once: la Justicia confirmó que los peritos no mintieron sobre el estado de los frenos by Fabio Ferrer on Infobae
  28. ^ Un perito detenido en el juicio por la Tragedia de Once on Página 12, 2 June 2015
  29. ^ El procesamiento por falso testimonio fue revocado on El Destape, March 15, 2018
  30. ^ "Una por una, las 21 condenas por la tragedia de Once" [One by one, the 21 convictions for Once's tragedy]. clarin.com (in Spanish). 29 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  31. ^ "Once tragedy: Schiavi, Jaime, Cirigliano, engine driver sent to prison in historic ruling". Buenos Aires Herald. 29 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
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2012 Buenos Aires rail disaster
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