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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Builder Held in Metro Accident

MTMunicipal repair workers examining the site of the metro accident Monday.
Moscow prosecutors on Monday detained the head of the company whose workmen drove concrete posts into a metro tunnel and hit a packed train.

All 500 passengers on the train were safely evacuated after the accident on the dark green line in northern Moscow on Sunday afternoon.

Radislav Lyba, the director of Polyus M, which was setting up the posts to erect a billboard, told investigators that the work was being carried out without permission from all the relevant authorities, prosecutors said.

"He doesn't dispute working without any permission," said Sergei Marchenko, a spokesman for the City Prosecutor's Office.

Marchenko could not say late Monday afternoon whether Lyba -- whose current status is that of a suspect -- would be charged. If charged and convicted of violating construction safety rules, Lyba faces up to three years in prison.

The billboard workers were driving posts at a site along railroad tracks and Ulitsa Kosmonavta Volkova, just below the Leningradskoye Shosse bridge near the Voikovskaya metro station.

The site is controlled by the Moscow Railroad, the local branch of state-owned Russian Railways, or RZD. Moscow metro chief Dmitry Gayev has accused the railroad of negligence, RIA-Novosti reported. He said Polyus M worked for three days at the site without permission before the accident.

Polyus M was subcontracted to raise the billboard by Laisa, an advertising agency that is affiliated with the Moscow Railroad, city officials said.

Laisa will be stripped of its license to work in Moscow, the head of City Hall's Committee on Advertising, Information and City Decorations, Vladimir Makarov, told RIA-Novosti.

An employee who answered the telephone at Laisa's office said no one at the company was willing to comment.

Makarov's deputy, Alexander Menchuk, called the accident flagrant and unprecedented. He said his committee's 150 inspectors usually stopped illegal advertising quickly -- including billboards being put up without permits and billboards carrying offensive ads -- but that the site of Sunday's accident was in a secured, out-of-the-way area that was difficult to enter.

Menchuk said all outdoor advertising in Moscow required a permit from his committee, and that permits were issued only after all authorities responsible for a location had given their approval. He also said all advertising structures such as billboards had to undergo technical evaluations.

He promised to tighten control over billboard construction and the subcontractors that perform construction work.

Moscow Railroad spokeswoman Yelena Bocharova said the strip alongside the tracks was usually guarded by railway employees, and that it was unclear how the workers had managed to enter the site. She said that the Moscow Railroad had no contract with Polyus M and she did not know who had hired it.

City Hall's Makarov said Laisa had failed to coordinate the construction plans with the authorities and had subcontracted the work to "unintelligent, unqualified" workmen.

Five workers who had been installing the concrete posts were detained Sunday. Marchenko of the prosecutor's office said they were released after questioning.

Gayev, the metro chief, said Monday on Rossia television that the workmen continued driving posts into the ground for 30 minutes after the first one crashed into the metro tunnel, hitting the third car from the front. About 70 passengers were in the car. Another post later struck the train's sixth car, which by that time had been abandoned, Gayev said.

The metro on Monday was tallying financial damages from the damaged tunnel, the two ruined train cars and the forced closure of the northern section of the dark green line until Monday morning. The metro planned to sue for its losses once investigators determined the responsible party, spokeswoman Yelena Krylova said.

Other city agencies were also counting their losses. Mosgortrans, the city's surface transportation authority, was calculating the cost of providing dozens of free buses to stranded passengers.