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Hundreds of commuters evacuated from San Francisco area train

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hundreds of passengers on a San Francisco Bay Area commuter train were evacuated on Wednesday after a parking brake suddenly deployed in a tunnel and passengers complained of smoke inhalation, authorities said.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority said 600 to 700 riders were evacuated from the train at a station in Oakland, which was temporarily closed so that firefighters could provide medical care to at least four people.

The Oakland Fire Department said on its Twitter feed that at least 10 people were being treated at the station after complaining of smoke inhalation. BART said in a recorded message that passengers may have mistaken brake dust for smoke.

"There was no fire, contrary to some earlier reports," spokesman Jim Allison said. "There was possibly some brake dust that looked like smoke."

Allison said the incident began at about 8:30 a.m. PST on Wednesday when the parking brakes of a train suddenly deployed in a tunnel in the hills around Berkeley.

An hour later, the train had been repaired and was moving on its own power into the Rockridge station in nearby Oakland, the transit agency said. At that point, passengers were evacuated from the train, it said.

The station was temporarily closed, he said, so firefighters could provide aid to passengers who felt ill.

The brake problem and evacuation caused delays of up to 30 minutes on a line connecting San Francisco with some of its eastern suburbs, the agency said.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston in Las Vegas, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Laila Kearney in San Francisco.; Editing by Scott Malone, Gunna Dickson and Maureen Bavdek)

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