One dead, scores injured in New Jersey commuter train crash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2016, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 6:02am

A crowded rush-hour commuter train crashed through a barrier at the busy Hoboken station in the US and lurched across the waiting area Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.

People pulled concrete off bleeding victims and passengers kicked out windows and crawled out amid crying and screaming after the arriving New Jersey Transit train ran off the end of its track. It apparently knocked out pillars as it ground to a halt in a covered waiting area, collapsing a section of the roof onto the first car.

We never slowed down. We ploughed, I mean, right through the bumper. People were trying to smash some windows out
Jim Finan, a commuter from New Jersey

Michael Larson, a New Jersey transit employee, told CNN the train hit a concrete block at the end of the line with such force that it went airborne – hitting the roof and causing it to partly collapse.

“We have 100 plus injuries,” Jennifer Nelson, a New Jersey transit spokeswoman, told reporters at the scene, adding that there were “multiple critical injuries.” NBC and CBS reported three fatalities from the early morning accident. No official toll was immediately available.

Nelson said there were around 250 passengers on the train at the time of the crash, which occurred at around 9am, and that it was not known if there were still people trapped on board.

Passengers quoted by US media described the train ramming at full speed into the bumper at the end of the track.

“We never slowed down,” Jim Finan, a commuter from New Jersey, told Fox. “We ploughed, I mean, right through the bumper. “Afterwards there was some panic. People were trying to smash some windows out.” Finan said it was an unusually crowded morning.

“Everyone who was standing kind of went flying,” he said. “I saw a lot of head injuries and kind of people with cuts.”

Nelson told reporters it was not known how fast the train was travelling as it entered the station, and that an investigation was ongoing. “We’re looking at all things that could have caused this accident,” she said. Emergency vehicles converged on the scene in response to the crash.

Pancho Bernasconi, Getty’s director of photography for news who arrived at the station just after the crash, told AFP he saw people running as he arrived on the scene.

There was “a lot of damage” to the station. “Part of the roof has collapsed”.

Video on social media showed the station in shambles with the train tangled in wires and debris from what appeared to be collapsed portions of the roof.

Other passengers described a scene of chaos with dazed and bloodied people making their way to safety.

“We crashed, and the lights went out. A few people screamed,” Leon Offengenden told CNN. “It was pretty chaotic. And people just in shock and everybody has photos and cameras out and iPads. It was pretty intense. I took a few snaps and video posted online,” he said.

The last major train crash in the United States was in May 2015, when an Amtrak train linking Washington to New York derailed in Philadelphia, leaving eight dead and 200 injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the scene. They will want to know what the operator was doing before the crash and whether the person was distracted, said Bob Chipkevich, who formerly headed the NTSB train crash investigations section.

The Hoboken Terminal, which handles more than 50,000 train and bus riders daily, is just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.