New York: At least six persons have been killed and several others injured when a commuter train hit a car on the tracks in New York suburb, resulting in a fire that engulfed the lead car of the train.
A Metro-North train that had departed from the busy Grand Central Station in Manhattan at 5:45 in the evening yesterday rammed into a car on the tracks in Valhalla, a suburb of New York City. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said that the gates at the railway crossing came down on top of the car, which was stopped on the tracks.
A woman, who was driving the car got out to look at the rear of the car, came back in and was struck by the approaching train as she drove forward. Among the people dead are the woman driver as well as five passengers on the train. Several others have been injured as the lead car of the train caught fire following the crash.
The MTA said the train shoved the car about 10 train car lengths. About 800 to 850 people were on the train at the time. CBS News quoted two passengers Ray Pierce and Matt Lucas as saying that they felt a thud and soon the train decelerated. Most people on the train were evacuated from the rear end of the train and were taken to a local rock-climbing gym for shelter.
The passengers braved chilly conditions and icy tracks as they made their way to safety. A winter storm had dumped several inches of snow in the New York area last week and on Monday and snow on roads and rail tracks is yet to melt. Another passenger Dan Soloway described a terrifying experience, saying the train came to an abrupt stop.
Soloway said he was sitting in the last car and there was no jolt from the impact. An investigation into the incident has been initiated. US Senator Charles Schumer expressed condolences to the victims and thanked the first responders who came to the scene of the tragic crash.
"I have spoken to (MTA President) Tom Prendergast, who has assured me that a full and thorough investigation has already begun," Schumer said in the statement. The accident impacted train service on the lines running between the Grand Central station and the North White Plains and Pleasantville suburbs.
The incident is the latest in a string of problems that have plagued Metro-North in recent years. In December 2013, four persons were killed and over 60 injured when a Metro-North train from Poughkeepsie bound for Grand Central in Manhattan derailed while rounding a bend just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station.
Four cars on the seven-car train turned on their side, throwing unsuspecting passengers into the air. Metro North is the second busiest US commuter railroad. In July 2013, 10 cars of a freight train carrying trash also derailed and in May, a passenger train struck a commuter train near Connecticut, injuring over 70 people.