Authorities are investigating the cause of a major train derailment near New York City in which four persons were killed and over 60 injured, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said safety remains the top priority and lessons need to be learnt from the "very tragic situation."
The early morning Metro-North train from Poughkeepsie bound for Grand Central in Manhattan derailed yesterday while rounding a bend just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station.
Four cars on the seven-car train turned on their side, throwing unsuspecting passengers into the air.
The four persons killed in the accident have been identified as James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, New York, Kisook Ahn, 35, of Woodside, Queens; Jim Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, New York and Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, New York.
The injured passengers were taken to a number of local hospitals. Of the 63 people injured, 11 were in critical condition.
Describing the derailment as a "very tragic situation," Cuomo visited the accident site and said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had launched a probe into the crash and ordered its officials to inspect the overturned cars and retrieve the black box that would provide vital clues about the speed of the train, any possible mechanical issues and whether the brakes were working fine.
"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to learn what happened with the accident, if there is a lesson to be learnt because safety is job one. We want to see trains perform and perform on time but safety is job one," Cuomo told reporters.
He said once the NTSB completes the investigation, the accident site would be turned over to the MTA for commencing repair work.
The train had about 120 passengers on board and was not scheduled to stop at the Spuyten Duyvil station.
It derailed in a wooded area where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet and footage from the crash site showed that onerail car was lying toppled near the edge of the water.
"On a work day, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster," New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Joseph Cassano told reporters.
Cuomo said the track area is "dangerous just by design" and trains are going about 70 miles per hour coming down the straight part of the track.
The investigation at the accident site, which could last for about 7-10 days and focus on track conditions, signalling systems, mechanical equipment, is expected to cause problems and delays for thousands of commuters who live in the suburbs of