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1 Dec, 2013 13:20

At least 4 dead, 63 injured in NYC train derailment

A Metro-North passenger train has derailed in the Bronx area of New York City, with reports of at least 4 deaths and 63 injured, 11 of them critically, according to the FDNY, Reuters reports.

Rebecca Schwartz, a witness at the scene, told the AP news agency that some of the carriages were submerged in water and that numerous emergency vehicles were at the scene. However, photos taken by witnesses show the cars just derailed without slipping into the water. Local media say up to 135 firefighters are at the scene. Police later said that the carriages were not submerged in water.  

The Metropolitan Transit Authority identified the four victims as 54-year-old Donna L. Smith of Newburgh; 58-year-old James G. Lovell of Cold Spring; 59-year-old James M. Ferrari of Montrose; and 35-year-old Ahn Kisook of Queens.

Emergency workers at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

The derailment happened just north of Manhattan, near Spuyten Duyvil station, shortly after 7am on Sunday. According to ABC, the train was the 5:54 from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central and was due to arrive into Grand Central at 07:43.

Five cars of the train's seven carriages came off the track about 100 feet north of the station just after 7am, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told WCBS 880 radio. 

Donovan who was working near the scene of the crash said the noise was so great he thought a plane was coming in.

“I was at my desk at my computer, and I thought a plane was coming in. I jumped away. Then after the noise stopped, I looked out the window and saw the derailment, and I called 911 right away,” he said.

Emergency crews at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

Frank Tatulli, a passenger who managed to get out of the wreck on his own despite suffering head and neck injuries, told WABC radio that he thought the train was traveling faster than usual.

The New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed the casualty figures and said that the authorities believe everyone at the site has been accounted for. He added that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was on its way to the crash site to begin an investigation.

The line involved in the accident is Metro-North’s Hudson line, which serves dormer towns like Croton-Harmon, Peekskill, Ossining and Yonkers.

Metro North said in a tweet that the service on the line is currently suspended.

Photo of Metro North passenger train that derailed in the Bronx. Some cars are in the river #NBC4NYpic.twitter.com/WmK9HcKrB4

— Sheldon Dutes (@SheldonDutes4NY) December 1, 2013

At a court hearing in November, following an earlier derailment on the New Haven Branch of the Metro-North railroad on May 17, a railroad official said that maintenance on the network was way behind schedule.

At the National Transportation Safety Board hearing in Washington DC, chief engineer, Robert Puciloski, said the railway was “behind in several areas”, including a five year schedule of cyclical maintenance and that there was no system in place to replace retiring workers.

On May 17, an eastbound train struck a westbound train at Bridgeport injuring 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor.

And on May 28 a track foreman was struck and killed by train in West Haven. He had earlier requested that the section of the track he was working on be taken out of service.