Injured passengers are taken from the site of a collision between two commuter… (Christian Abraham / Associated…)
NEW YORK -- Five people were hospitalized in critical condition Friday and dozens more were treated for less serious injuries after a commuter train headed from New York City to suburban Connecticut derailed and hit a train headed in the opposite direction, officials said.
Gov. Dannel Malloy updated the casualty figures late Friday after he arrived at the scene near the Fairfield, Conn., station about 50 miles north of New York City. Of the five people most seriously injured, Malloy said, one was in "very critical" condition.
Malloy said he had no reason to believe that the crash, which occurred shortly after 6 p.m., was "anything other than an accident," and he noted that other trains had passed the same area without incident earlier in the evening.
"These trains at that hour are in fairly constant use, so just before these trains came into contact with one another, other trains had been through the same spot," Malloy said.
Passengers described bumps followed by a sudden stop, then uncertainty as they tried to figure out what had happened.
"Out of nowhere, there was a sort of jolt and a very abrupt halt," Chris Martin, who was in the train headed into New York, told CNN. Another man on the train, Alex Cohen, described smoke coming into his car. "People were screaming. People were really nervous," Cohen told NBC Connecticut.
"Everybody lunged forward. My bag went flying," another passenger, Michael Ellis, told Patch.com. "The people in the front car suffered quite a bit."
One photograph showed the front car of one of the trains ripped open on its left side.
Some of the injured lay on the dirt beside the broken tracks waiting to be tended to as emergency workers carried others away on stretchers. A woman clutching several shopping bags comforted a weeping teenage boy as a woman they had been traveling with was strapped onto a stretcher and put into an ambulance.
The two trains carried about 250 passengers, and Malloy said the injured included passengers and crew. Buses were used to carry those not injured away from the station. It was not clear when service on the heavily used commuter line linking Grand Central Terminal to several Connecticut cities would resume, but Malloy warned that the crash would have a "big impact" on travel.
Metro-North is the second-largest commuter railroad in the United States, after the Long Island Railroad, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's website. It carries more than 281,000 people each weekday in and out of New York City, serving 122 stations on 795 miles of track.
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