A passenger train hurtled off the tracks in the Bronx area of New York City on Sunday, killing four people and injuring 63, including 11 critically, when all seven coaches derailed on a sharp curve, coming perilously close to plunging into a river.
A passenger train derailed in the Bronx borough of New York City on Sunday morning, killing four people and injuring 63 others, 11 of them critically.
The Metro North train hurtled off the tracks as it was coming around a sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvel station in the Bronx, where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet.
Some of the roughly 150 passengers on the early morning train from Poughkeepsie to Manhattan were jolted from sleep around 7:20 am to screams and the sensation of their compartment rolling over.
Some passengers were "impaled" by debris as train cars flew into the air, officials said, while others had to be cut free from tangled metal.
Many survivors had broken limbs or injuries to their heads or necks, with some being led away with bloodied faces, applying ice packs to try and ease the pain.
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) police identified the victims as Ahn Kisook, 35, Donna Smith, 54, James Lovell, 58, and James Ferrari, 59.
A Fire Department spokesman said 11 people had been sent to the hospital in a critical condition and six in a serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.
Thrown from the train
Although it is not yet clear what caused the accident, one passenger who was on the train, Frank Tatulli, told ABC News’ Eyewitness News that he takes the train every Sunday morning, and that it was travelling at a higher rate of speed than it normally does. Tatulli said he had got out of the train on his own, and suffered head and neck injuries.
'People were screaming in fear'
According to the New York City Fire Department, some 135 firefighters were deployed to help pull people from the wreckage while rescue workers combed the shoreline for survivors.
Joseph Bruno, who heads the city's Office of Emergency Management, told CNN it appeared that three of the four people killed had been ejected from the train. The MTA and the fire department both said that could not immediately be confirmed.
Michael Keaveney, 22, a security worker whose home overlooks the site, said he had heard a loud bang when the train derailed.
"It woke me up from my sleep," he told AP. "It looked like [the train] took out a lot of trees on its way over toward the water."
Speed possible culprit
"Four people lost their lives today in the holiday season, right after Thanksgiving," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.
Cuomo said the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash, but he noted that the National Transportation Safety Board would determine what happened.
"That is a dangerous area on the track just by design," Cuomo told CNN after touring the site. "The trains are going about 70 miles per hour [112 kph] coming down the straight part of the track. They slow to about 30 miles per hour [48 kph] to make that sharp curve.”
FRANCE 24 New York correspondent Jessica Le Masurier said there had been previous accidents on the same section of the railway, with a garbage train derailing at the exact same spot in July.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said investigators would look at numerous factors, including the train, the track and signal system, the operators and speed.
As deadly as the derailment was, the toll could have been far greater had it happened on a weekday, or had the lead car plunged into the water.
“On a workday, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster,'' New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Joseph Cassano told reporters at the scene. The affected line, called the Hudson line, carries about 18,000 people on an average weekday morning.
“The first carriage came very close to hitting the water,” Le Masurier said, adding that divers had been dispatched to the scene “in case anyone had been thrown into the water”.
The derailment was the latest in a string of problems for Metro-North, the second busiest US commuter railroad in terms of monthly ridership.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
In pictures: the New York train derailment
Date created : 2013-12-01