Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fatal train crash probe under way

Firefighters work at the scene of the accident in Valhalla. (AP)
Firefighters work at the scene of the accident in Valhalla. (AP)
A Metro-North Railroad passenger train smoulders after hitting a vehicle in Valhalla (AP/The Journal News, Frank Becerra Jr)

Investigators are searching for clues to why an SUV stopped on the tracks ahead of an oncoming commuter train, triggering a crash that killed six people on a major line outside New York City.

They also hope to have answers soon to how fast the train was going, whether its brakes were applied and whether its horn was sounded as it approached the crossing.

Local officials, meanwhile, worked to identify those killed in the deadliest accident on the country's second-busiest commuter railroad - one that has come under scrutiny after a series of accidents in recent years.

Fifteen people remain in hospital.

"It's really inexplicable, based on the facts we have now," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "Everybody wants to know exactly what happened, so that if something can be corrected, we correct it."

Five train passengers and the SUV's driver were killed in the crash in Valhalla, about 20 miles north of New York City.

Authorities said the SUV's driver got out of her vehicle momentarily after the crossing's safety gates came down around her. She then got back in and was trying to drive forward when she was hit.

The northbound Metro-North Railroad train left Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan around 5.45pm and struck the SUV about 45 minutes later.

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

National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman Robert Sumwalt said investigators planned to examine the train's black-box-style recorders. The track signals also have recording devices that will be scrutinised.

Press Association

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