NY train slams into SUV killing 7 people

The train shoved the SUV about 10 train car lengths as smoke poured out of the scorched front rail car.

A Metro-North Railroad passenger train bursts into flames after hitting a vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 3, 2015. AP Photo/The Journal News, Frank Becerra Jr
Powered by automated translation

MOUNT PLEASANT, NEW YORK // At least seven people were killed and dozens injured when a crowded New York commuter train struck a car stalled on the tracks in Westchester County on Tuesday.

Six people on the train died, as well as the driver of a Jeep Cherokee that got stuck on the tracks and was hit at about 6.30pm (2330 GMT) on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“This is a truly ugly and brutal sight,” he said after visiting the scene in Valhalla, about 32 km north of New York City. “The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the [rail] car, it’s a devastatingly ugly situation.”

“It’s actually amazing that not more people were hurt on that train,” Mr Cuomo said.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said 12 people were injured, 10 of them seriously.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said the crash was the deadliest accident for Metro-North, the second largest commuter railroad in the United States.

The crash also meant that thousands of commuters faced a snarled journey to work on Wednesday morning.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said roughly 45,000 riders take the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line on an average weekday. About 14,000 of them board north of where the crash occurred and would be directly affected.

Parts of the line would stay closed on Wednesday, according to the MTA.

The third rail, which carries 750 volts of direct current, tore through the floor of the first car of the train, charring the carriage and sending billows of smoke into the air. Damage to the other seven cars was minimal.

Hundreds of passengers from the eight-car train were taken to a rock-climbing gym for shelter, authorities said.

Jared Woodard, who was on the train travelling home to Chappaqua, described the scenes as the train was evacuated.

“The smoke was orange coming off the train, it was still on fire at that point. The front car was billowing heavy smoke out of the windows and doors,” Mr Woodard said.

Tuesday’s crash is the latest in a string of accidents involving Metro-North trains in recent years, which have drawn strong criticism.

One derailed near the northern edge of New York City on December 1, 2013, killing four people and injuring 70. It was travelling nearly three times the speed limit for the section of track where it crashed, investigators said.

* Reuters