NEW YORK • Dozens of people were injured when two New York subway train cars careened off the tracks, leaving hundreds of people stuck for more than an hour, a fire department spokesman said.
The incident - which occurred mid-morning yesterday on the A train line between two stations in Harlem in northern Manhattan - left 36 people with minor injuries, the spokesman said. Evacuating everyone from the underground tunnel took over 11/2 hours, he added.
The cause of the derailment, which continued to disrupt traffic throughout the day, was not immediately clear. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which manages the city's ageing public transit system, said the situation was under investigation.
Newly appointed MTA chairman Joseph Lhota told a television station the derailment would have been preceded by activation of the emergency brake, but could not say why it was triggered. He said it was not clear if the train was of an older model, where passengers can pull the brake, or a newer one, where riders cannot.
Riders described smoke and fire on the tracks, which Mr Lhota said could have resulted from litter igniting.
One passenger said: "People were panicking, jumping out of their seats, just crying and praying out loud... It was just very traumatising."
Mr Kelly Kopp, 48, a photographer whose train car filled with smoke, said: "I thought, this is it. I thought we're going to burn alive in here."
The episode intensified scrutiny of New York's antiquated subway system - one of the world's busiest with over 5.6 million average daily trips - which has had soaring delays and a build-up of incidents. Mr Lhota, who is only days into the job, vowed to "rebuild confidence".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES