NEW YORK – Four people were killed and dozens injured, 11 critically, in a train derailment early Sunday morning in the Spuyten Duyvil area of the Bronx, according to a spokesperson for outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
More than 60 people were taken to local hospitals and treated for spinal, leg and arm injuries.
The seven-car train left the upstate Poughkeepsie station around 5:44 a.m. on Sunday and was coming around a fast left bend, heading into Grand Central Terminal, when around five cars derailed and scattered near the Harlem river around 7:22 a.m., NBC news reported. The train had been scheduled to arrive at Grand Central at 7:43 a.m.
It was about half full at the time of the crash, with about 150 passengers.
“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.
Some 130 fire department officials searched the area for survivors, including NYPD scuba divers in the Harlem River. NBC reported the train engineer was “in the hospital and responsive.”
FDNY Chief of Department Ed Kilduff told CBS that three of the four deceased were thrown from the train. Five of the injured people were offduty NYPD officers, and all are in stable condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced it was investigating the accident. The NYPD and FBI were also scouting the scene, but told reporters that no foul play was suspected.
Joel Zaritsky, a resident of Poughkeepsie with a visible hand injury, told reporters he had been on his way to New York City for a dental convention.
“I was asleep and I woke up when the car started rolling several times. Then I saw the gravel coming at me, and I heard people screaming. There was smoke everywhere and debris. People were thrown to the other side of the train,” he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the scene and told reporters, “It’s obviously a very tragic situation.”
“We think everybody is accounted for, we’ve gone over the site a number of times," Cuomo said, adding his thoughts and prayers were with the families of the dead and injured.
New York Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who represents the 13th district, comprised of upper Manhattan and part of the Western Bronx, released a statement, saying, “Words cannot express my deepest sorrow for the tragic loss of lives from the accident that occurred this morning. I join the community in praying for their loved ones as well as for the quick recovery of those who were injured. We offer our support for help.
New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand tweeted “My thoughts & prayers are with the loved ones of those killed in this AM’s Metro North derailment. Hoping for swift recovery for the injured.”
Following the accident, service on the Metro-North Hudson line has been suspended, potentially causing delays as people return to the city from the Thanksgiving holiday.
This was the Metro-North railway’s second major derailment of the year; the first occurred in July. No one was hurt in that accident.
The MTA said Sunday’s accident marked the first passenger fatality in Metro North’s three-decade history and that it was a “black day” for the railroad.
The names of the deceased had not been released by press time.
Reuters contributed to this report.