US probes train collision that left dozens injured

TRAIN OF TERROR::More than 60 passengers were hurt in the crash, with one witness describing being hurled into the air and thrown around the carriage

AP and Reuters, FAIRFIELD, Connecticut

Sun, May 19, 2013 - Page 1

Two US commuter trains packed with rush-hour commuters collided in an accident that sent more than 60 people to the hospital on Friday evening, severely damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the congested Northeast Corridor in the US.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said five people were critically injured and one was very critically hurt in the crash on the Metro-North Railroad, which serves the northern suburbs of New York City.

“It’s pretty devastating damage to a number of cars,” Malloy told a news conference. “These cars came into contact [and the impact]ripped open the siding of one of the cars. There is extensive damage in the front and the wheels.”

Passengers described a chaotic, terrifying scene of crunching metal and flying bodies.

“All I know was I was in the air, hitting seats, bouncing around, flying down the aisle and finally I came to a stop on one seat,” Lola Oliver, 49, told reporters. “It happened so fast I had no idea what was going on.”

About 700 people were on board the Metro-North trains when one heading east from New York City’s Grand Central Station to New Haven derailed about 6:10pm just outside Bridgeport, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Bridgeport officials said.

The train was hit by another heading west from New Haven to Grand Central on an adjacent track, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

Some cars on the second train also derailed as a result of the collision.

The nursing supervisor at St Vincent Medical Center said early yesterday that more than 40 people had been seen and five patients remained there, including one in critical condition.

Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello said that as of 6am yesterday, about 14 people were still being seen and that two patients were in critical condition.

Malloy said there was extensive damage to the train cars and the track and it could take until tomorrow for normal service to be restored. Amtrak, which uses the same rails, suspended service indefinitely between New York and Boston. He said the collision would have a big impact on the vital rail corridor between Boston and New York City for days.

Investigators on Friday night did not know what caused the first train to derail. Malloy said there was no reason to believe it was anything other than an accident. The US National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate.

The area where the accident happened was already down to two tracks because of repair work, Malloy said.

Crews have been working for a long time on the electric power lines above the tracks.