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New Jersey train wreck shocks nation



A commuter train crashed into one of the busiest train stations in the New York area during the morning rush on Thursday, killing at least one person, injuring dozens of others and creating a scene of chaos and destruction, the authorities and witnesses said.

The crash occurred around 8:45 a.m., when a commuter train slammed into the Hoboken Terminal building, Jim Smith, a spokesman for New Jersey Transit, said. It came to a stop on a busy concourse near a waiting area as passengers inside the train scrambled to climb out of the windows.

“It’s just head-shaking,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on CNN. “Obviously, this train was traveling at a fairly high rate of speed.

Michael Larson, a New Jersey Transit worker, was in the station when the train crashed. He said he crawled on his hands and knees to pull people out of the first train car. Videos and photographs show the front of the train stopped beyond the tracks inside the station amid a jumble of mangled metal and hanging wires.

“The first car was pretty well destroyed,” Mr. Larson said. “The whole roof was caved in. The seats were broken.”

Mr. Larson, whose pant leg was bloodied, said that “by looking at the damage” he suspected there had been fatalities.

When the train arrived at the station, it went “over the bumper block, through the depot” and came to rest at the wall right before the station’s waiting area, Mr. Larson told reporters during a segment that was broadcast on CNN.

“One of the worst days I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Rail service was suspended into and out of the station, including service provided by the PATH system, which runs between Manhattan and New Jersey. Local buses and ferries began accepting New Jersey train tickets as a result of the accident, but ferry service to New York City from Hoboken was shut down at midday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said.

Hoboken is a busy transit hub for both New Jersey Transit and PATH, the rail line that travels to Manhattan. Hoboken Terminal is one of New Jersey Transit’s most used stations with about 15,000 people boarding there each weekday, according to figures from the railroad. More than 28,000 riders use the Hoboken PATH station on weekdays. The train that crashed started its journey shortly after 7:30 a.m. in Spring Valley, N.Y., and was going to Hoboken along the Pascack Valley line.

Passengers on the train described the crash and its chaotic aftermath.

Amy Krulewitz, who commutes from Hackensack, N.J., into Manhattan, was riding in the fourth car of the train.

The train “wobbled,” she said, “then, boom!” She said the front car was “crumpled.”

Emerging from the Jersey City Medical Center with a slight limp and what she said was a twisted ankle, Ms. Krulewtiz said she had felt “how the train was going off the tracks.”

“I was stunned,” she said.

People in her car immediately checked on one another after the impact, she said.

Jason Danahy, another passenger, said he was in the fifth car.

“From the fifth car, it felt like a major skid,” he said. “A creaking noise and a skid. I was lucky to be on the fifth car.”

He exited the train. “I saw bloody noses,” Mr. Danahy said. “I saw people crying.”

The Jersey City Medical Center treated dozens of people with minor injuries and some with more serious injuries, officials said. A spokesman for Care Point Health said 16 patients were taken to Hoboken University Medical Center, and at least one to Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

The train’s engineer survived the crash and was being treated at a hospital, according to a union that represents New Jersey Transit workers.

Ben Fairclough said he was transferring at the station when he saw the derailed train, which was blocking part of the terminal.

“There were wires down, water pouring from the ceiling, the roof had collapsed and there was people climbing out of windows of the train,” he said.

A video taken by Mr. Fairclough shows passengers climbing out of the train, walking over the debris. “Clear the area,” someone shouts.

Mr. Fairclough said one person appeared to be unconscious on the ground. Others were bloody, he said.

“Cars drive into houses,” he said. “This was a train that drove into the terminal.”

Tom Spina said he was in the terminal when “we heard a loud boom.” He walked toward the chaotic scene.

“You saw folks bleeding from the head, limping, folks were on the ground,” he said. “It was awful.”

Mr. Christie and Mr. Cuomo were expected at the scene of the crash on Thursday afternoon.

T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transit Review Board, said the agency was sending investigators to the scene.

Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said the agency had also dispatched investigators.

The nearby PATH train station at Hoboken was the site of a crash in 2011 that injured 30 people.