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Four dead as train derails

A New York City commuter train has derailed on a sharp bend, killing four people and injuring dozens more.

Some of the 100 to 150 passengers on the early morning Metro-North train from suburban Poughkeepsie to Manhattan were jolted awake around 7:20 am to screams and the sensation of their compartment rolling over on a bend where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet in the Bronx. When the motion stopped, four or five of the seven cars were off the rails.

"Four people lost their lives today in the holiday season, right after Thanksgiving," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. Eleven of those hurt were believed to be critically injured and another six seriously hurt, according to the Fire Department.

The train driver was among the injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board was en route to investigate, and Mr Cuomo would not speculate about the causes of the crash until the federal agency issued its findings. Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas F Prendergast said investigators would look at factors including the train, the track and signal system, the train operators and speed.

The big curve where the derailment occurred is in a slow-speed area. Several injured passengers said the train seemed to be going too fast as it took the curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station.

MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the train's data recorders should be able to tell how fast it was travelling.

Joel Zaritsky was dozing as he travelled to the city for a dental convention.

"I woke up when the car started rolling several times. Then I saw the gravel coming at me, and I heard people screaming," he said.

"There was smoke everywhere and debris. People were thrown to the other side of the train."

Mike Gallo heard the crash as he was walking his dog. He looked down at the tracks and "knew it was a tragedy right away. I saw injured people climbing out of the train."

Within minutes, dozens of emergency crews arrived and carried passengers away on stretchers, some wearing neck braces.

"This curve's been here a long, long time," Mr Gallo said, adding that the spot has a reputation for being treacherous, especially if a train is speeding.

Three of the dead were found outside the train, and one was found inside, authorities said. Their families had not yet been notified.

President Barack Obama said his thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of the victims of the train derailment. The White House issued a statement saying the president was briefed on the accident and would continue to stay in touch with New York officials.

Today's accident is the second passenger train derailment in six months for the rail service.

On May 17, an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was struck by a westbound train. The crash injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor.



From Belfast Telegraph