NEW YORK (Reuters/AFP) - At least seven people were killed when a Metro-North commuter train crashed with a car north of New York City on Tuesday evening, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The driver of the car and six train passengers were killed, he added.
Mr Cuomo was speaking at a news conference after visiting what he said was a devastating scene. "This is a truly ugly and brutal sight. The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the (rail) car, it's a devastatingly ugly situation to see," he told reporters.
"It's actually amazing that not more people were hurt on that train," Mr Cuomo said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, known as MTA, said there were at least 12 serious injuries on the train
The accident occurred on Tuesday evening when the New York commuter train struck at least one car near the town of White Plains, sparking a fire, ABC News reported.
The accident happened about 6.30pm local time, and involved a train heading out of New York City on the Harlem Line.The collision occurred in Valhalla, just outside New York City.
The driver of the car was killed when the train slammed into the vehicle and six passengers aboard died after flames ripped through a carriage, NBC New York reported. Pictures posted on Twitter showed a blackened train car with its windows shattered.
Several news media showed images of a car on fire and smoke coming from train cars, and reported that passengers were evacuated from the train.
The authorities scrambled to help hundreds of shell-shocked passengers off the train, which had departed from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) and passengers told NBC.
The MTA said 400 passengers from the eight-car train were taken to a rock-climbing gym for shelter. The average number of people on the train is 650, the MTA said.
Reuters witnesses said emergency workers were seen carrying someone off the train on a stretcher at 9.45pm local time as dozens of fire and police vehicles flooded the area with lights.
Media reports said the driver of the car got out briefly to try to push it off the tracks, then got back into the car before it was hit by the train.
ABC quoted a passenger saying that many people were trapped and could not get off, while people outside were telling them the train was on fire.
Passenger Neil Rader was sitting in the middle-back of the train when he felt a "small jolt", he told NBC.
"It felt not even like a short stop, and then the train just completely stopped," he said.
Frantic passengers had to evacuate by breaking glass on the doors to get out, said Mr Rader, adding that he saw 50 to 60 ambulances at the scene.
"I've never seen anything quite like it," he said.
Service was suspended on a segment of the line between North White Plains and Pleasantville, the Metro-North Railroad service said.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department, which responded to the accident about 48km north-east of New York City, did not immediately provide information on injuries or fatalities.
The train left Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan at 5.44pm and was headed north to Wassaic in south-east New York state.
The MTA said parts of the train line would remain closed on Wednesday morning. It was arranging for shuttle buses to fill the gap and warned of crowds and delays for thousands of commuters.