At least 34 people were injured when a New York City subway train derailed in Manhattan this morning, The New York Times reports.
During the morning commute, two cars veered off the tracks and passengers describe a frightening scene in which they were engulfed by sparks and smoke. According to Fire Department Officials, injured passengers were transported to local hospitals for treatment. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to The Washington Post.
Michelle Ayoub, a passenger on the southbound A train, said she feared for her life after the train lost control. “I never thought it was not a safe system. I guess now I’m thinking that. I really don’t want to get back on a train," Ayoub said.
The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation. According to Joseph J. Lhota, the new leader of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the train derailed after its emergency brakes were activated. When questioned about the safety of the city's subway system, he responded that he aims to “rebuild the confidence” in the agency.
“We transport millions of people every day,” Lhota told reporters. “We want to do it safely, and we want to do it as quickly and as efficiently as we possibly can.”
At this time, it remains unclear what activated the emergency brakes and what caused the two cars to derail. It's also unknown whether or not the derailment is related to the subway's dilapidated infrastructure.
Mounds of concrete fell from the walls, and the accident damaged 200 feet of track and signal equipment.
Passengers recall chaos after being plunged into darkness as the train derailed. “People were screaming. People were throwing up because the smoke was so thick,” said passenger Kelly Kopp. Immediately after the derailment, he saw sparks and smoke. "I thought, ‘This is it,’” he recalls. “I thought, ‘We’re going to burn alive in here.’”
According to authorities, there were approximately 800 people in the tunnel after the derailment and it took about an hour to get everyone outside to safety. Lhota stated that the smoke and fire was caused by garbage on the tracks that was set ablaze when the train derailed.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement about the incident: “While the investigation is ongoing, this morning’s subway derailment is an unacceptable manifestation of the system’s current state. New Yorkers deserve better.”