Two Metro-North Railroad trains collided after a derailment near Fairfield, Conn., at the height of the evening rush Friday, injuring 60 people, five of them critically, and snarling transit corridors in the Northeast, authorities said.
An eastbound train heading toward New Haven, Conn., derailed at the Bridgeport-Fairfield border, just east of Fairfield Metro Station at about 6:10 p.m., careening into a westbound train on an adjacent track, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"I thought there was a bombing," said Natalie Sepulveda, 23, who had been aboard the westbound train with her 2-year-old son.
"I smelled smoke and looked outside the window and saw a whole bunch of dust, and I grabbed my son."
It was not immediately clear what caused the derailment, but the authority said that the police were investigating "as though it were a crime scene." The National Transportation Safety Board was dispatching investigators.
The crash also obstructed operations for Amtrak, which suspended service between New York and Boston.
The transportation authority said the collision occurred in an area where two of the four tracks were out of service for work on overhead wires, suggesting that disruptions could persist into the weekend.
Passengers recalled a chaotic scene after the collision, as riders tried to help one another out of the train.
Andrea Turner, 26, said she was on the eastbound train, which appeared to be moving without incident until the derailment.
"We were just riding along fine," she said. "We felt like the brakes were pumping, and we felt a crash."
The eastbound train left Grand Central Terminal in New York, the authority said, bound for New Haven. When it derailed, the train swung to the left, striking the westbound train on a neighboring track. That train left New Haven and was headed to Grand Central.
"The train leaned to the left and in so doing, clipped the train coming in the opposite direction," said Marjorie Anders, an authority spokeswoman.