Monday 20 November 2017

Four killed and dozens injured as 'speeding' New York train derails

Rescue workers help the injured
Rescue workers help the injured
Carriages lie on their side after the train derailed on a bend at Spuyten Duyvil station in The Bronx.
Emergency personnel remove a body from the scene.

At least four people have been killed after a train derailed at high speed on the way to Grand Central Station in New York.

Three died after being thrown from the train yesterday, which left the tracks at a known black spot, while a fourth was killed inside a carriage. More than 60 people were injured, 11 seriously.

The train left the rails on a sharp bend close to Spuyten Duyvil station in The Bronx, beside the Harlem River. One of the carriages ended up just inches from the water.

"It's a very tragic situation," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "The first order of business is to care for the people who were on the train."

The crash played havoc with the travel plans of New Yorkers returning to the city after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Dozens of people, including the train's driver and three crew members, were taken to four nearby hospitals. Several were rushed into surgery to treat badly broken bones and serious wounds. Some had been trapped under overturned carriages, after being thrown from their seats. Rescue workers lifted wreckage off them with inflatable airbags, while others were cut free by firemen.

INQUIRY

Officials from The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates transport accidents, opened an inquiry and were interviewing the driver about how fast he was going.

Oliver Koppell, the area's city councilman, said: "It would appear the train was clearly going too fast on the curve." There were unconfirmed reports that the driver said his brakes had failed.

The train, a 5.54am service from Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, crashed about 20 minutes before it was due to arrive at Manhattan's Grand Central terminal at 7.43am.

The driver was said to be a trusted 15-year veteran of the Metro-North Railroad and to have been left "very, very traumatised". Officials said the death toll could have been far higher if the crash had taken place on a weekday, when the route is packed with commuters.

Survivors agreed that the train seemed to be travelling too fast. Frank Tatulli, who takes the service into work in Manhattan every Sunday, said the train was going "a lot faster" than usual. "The guy was going on one of the turns fast, I have no idea why," he said.

Dianna Jackson, whose face was covered in blood, said: "The driver was going around the curve really fast. Next thing you know, we're in the middle of a wreckage."

There was confusion at the scene as officials admitted that they did not know how many passengers had been on board.

Police divers were searching the river while officers with cadaver dogs were scouring land around the tracks.

The accident happened seven months after two commuter trains on the Metro-North system collided in Connecticut following a derailment during an evening rush hour, injuring more than 70 people.

A 10-carriage train carrying rubbish also came off the rails in the same area of The Bronx in July. Three train operators on board escaped without injury.

Jon Swaine

Irish Independent

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