Ceiling collapse sparks Rome metro chaos

Rome's metro was plunged into chaos on Monday after a battery compartment smashed into the roof of a tunnel – causing a chunk to break off and shower a train with rubble.

Ceiling collapse sparks Rome metro chaos
A partial collapse of a tunnel ceiling on Rome metro's Line A caused disruption. Photo: Paolo Margarai/Flickr

Passengers had to be evacuated from the Line A train after the incident near San Giovanni metro station. Nobody was hurt in the incident. 

But the line was then closed between San Giovanni and Ottaviano – a stretch of 10 stops which crosses the city centre. 

Atac, the company that manages all public transport in Rome, quickly laid on replacement buses but passengers were angry at the disruption – which happened at around 8.20am at the height of rush-hour.

“Don't dare go on strike this week!” Tweeted one irate traveller, directing her anger towards the staff of Atac, who have exacerbated structural problems in the city all summer by calling frequent strikes.

“Rome dreams of the Olympics but can't even maintain its metro,” wrote another disappointed resident. 

“We don't know how this happened,” Rome transport assessor Stefano Esposito told Il Messaggero.

“The battery pack is about the size of a chest of draws – either there was some kind of structural failure or someone left the battery pack compartment open after maintenance.”

This is the latest in a series of incidents to blight Rome’s metro network in recent months.

In early June, two trains collided in a tunnel on Line B, injuring 21 people. Less than a week later, a five-year-old boy died after falling into the shaft of a faulty lift at Furio Camillio stop, on Line A.

And in July passengers experienced a terrifying journey when a crowded train drove between two stops with the doors wide open.

Meanwhile, four students became trapped in a metro station earlier this month after taking the last train home, only to find the station closed.

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.