At least four people have died after a passenger train heading for Grand Central Station derailed in the Bronx, the New York Fire Department has confirmed.
A further 63 people have been injured in the incident, officials said, as images from the scene showed four carriages clearly off the track, with one just a few feet away from the waters of the Hudson River.
Police said a major emergency services response was called, with around 130 firefighters attending the scene.
Michael Parrella, a spokesman for the Fire Department, said some people were transported to hospital for treatment. Authorities said 11 people were believed to be in a critical condition, but they now consider all passengers to have been accounted for.
Local media reports said the derailment occurred at 7.20am local time (12.20pm GMT), with the train due to arrive at Grand Central at 7.43am. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police say the train derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station.
Officers said four cars were off the track, two of which were on their side, though some witnesses said all of the carriages could have been derailed to some extent.
The train had a diesel locomotive, situated at the back (north) end of the train pushing the carriages southwards towards the city centre.
Location of derailment en route to Grand Central Station Location of derailment en route to Grand Central Station
The train appeared to be going “a lot faster” than usual as it approached the curve coming into the station, passenger Frank Tatulli told WABC-TV.
MTA Chairman Thomas F Prendergast was asked at the news conference if speed was something authorities planned to investigate.
“That'd be one of the factors,” he said, adding that the focus right now was on the passengers who were injured.
Joel Zaritsky said he was 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, holding his bloody right hand.
While a witness quoted by the AP news agency said some carriages had been submerged in the water, aerial footage and pictures appeared to show only the front train close to the river’s edge. Fire officials told reporters from WCBS that none of the carriages fully entered the water.
On Twitter, the official Metro-North Railroad account said the Hudson Line Service between Croton Harmon and GCTis was suspended due to the incident.
US President Barack Obama says his thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of the victims of the derailment.
The White House issued a statement saying the president was briefed on the accident this morning and he will continue to stay in touch with New York officials throughout the day.
It’s the second accident this year for Metro North. In May, a train travelling on the Connecticut coastal line derailed closed to the city of Bridgeport and was then hit by another train coming from the other direction. In that incident, 73 passengers were hurt as well as three members of the operating team.