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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 23:23 GMT
Toilet farce causes rush hour chaos
Grand Central station
Thousands were delayed at Grand Central Station
Thousands of New York commuters were stranded after a man's arm became wedged down a train toilet as he tried to retrieve his mobile phone.

Rescue crews had to dismantle the toilet with Edwin Gallart's arm still stuck in the u-bend.

The train was held at New York City's Grand Central Station, which caused severe delays throughout the rail system.

Rail company Metro-North Railroad may seek damages from Mr Gallart, 41, to cover the costs incurred.

Blowtorch

A fellow passenger reported that another commuter was "in distress" after hearing Mr Gallart's cries for help,

He had dropped his phone down the toilet, shortly after the train left the station.

When his cell phone went down the toilet so did our evening rush hour, so did thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money
Dan Brucker, Metro-North

Metro-North spokesman Dan Brucker told BBC Radio Five Live: "That was enough of a problem, but then under some completely misguided notion he stuck his hand into the toilet to extricate the phone.

"Then he went and stuck his arm all the way down."

"He didn't get his phone out and he didn't get his arm out either," he said.

The train was brought to a halt at the city's Fordham station, where it blocked the line throughout the 90-minute rescue operation.

Waste tank

Crew members unsuccessfully struggled to free the man before firefighters and police were called.

The toilet was dismantled using blowtorches and Mr Gallart was treated at a local hospital before being released. He was unavailable for comment.

All 600 passengers on board were put on other trains and all northbound trains had to be rerouted.

Thousands of dollars were spent on putting on extra trains and crews for stranded commuters during the incident on Wednesday evening, said Mr Brucker.

"When his cell phone went down the toilet so did our evening rush hour, so did thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money, and so did our 'on time' performance.

"Everything went down the toilet with it," he said.

Mr Brucker said the rail company was "not particularly interested" in going through the toilet's waste tank to retrieve the lost phone.


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