"It's a very serious incident," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said late Friday. "One of the injuries is very critical."
Most of the serious injuries occurred in the first car on one train and the third car of the other, he said, where the trains came into contact. The impact tore off a portion of the siding and caused extensive damage to both trains, both of which are new M8 cars.
"It's pretty devastating damage to a number of cars," Malloy said. The state was awaiting the arrival of the National Safety Transportation Board, which will lead the investigation into the cause of the crash.
"We have no reason to believe that this was anything but accidental," Malloy said. "But obviously that's something that has to be looked at."
St. Vincent's Hospital and Bridgeport Hospital were treating the injured people, with five people in serious condition, Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said. The hospitals were still evaluating "walking wounded," he said.
Hector Navarro of Hartford was on the southbound train but not in a car that derailed. "It was like something just grabbed us and held us back. The whole car just jerked," he said. "Kids fell on the floor - people got hurt. It was a scary feeling. I feel sorry for those that could not hold on tight."
Some passengers got off the trains along the track on their own, others with help, officials said. The passengers on the westbound train were taken to the Fairfield station; the passengers on the eastbound train went to the Bridgeport station.
"Luckily, they did not collide head-on, which obviously would have caused more serious injuries," MacNamara said.
The train service will be shut down all night. "If you're planning to take the train in the morning, I would suggest finding an alternate mode of transportation," Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett said.
The crash involved two trains that were carrying rush-hour commuters. The tracks were described as being destroyed by the derailment.
Photos shown on television showed the two trains side by side, with at least one car off the tracks. Part of one train car was ripped open. The crash took place in Bridgeport, near the Fairfield line, near Interstate 95.
"We don't know whether this was accidental or mechanical or ... you know ... intentional," Lt. James Perez of the Fairfield Police Department said in an interview on NBC Connecticut. "We are investigating."
On the New Haven Line, no westbound train service was being provided beyond Bridgeport. Eastbound train service was running to South Norwalk, where all trains were stopping, Metro-North said on its website. Many trains were stopped en route at the closest station.
Police activity on I-95 northbound and southbound was reported at Exit 25. The exit 25 off ramps were closed, the state Department of Transportation reported.
The train involved was the 4:41 p.m. train out of Grand Central due in New Haven at 6:32 p.m., Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. In derailing, it hit a westbound train on the adjacent track, she said. That train was the 5:35 p.m. out of New Haven due in Grand Central at 7:18 p.m.
Police from Bridgeport, Trumbull, Easton and Westport in addition to Fairfield were on the scene.
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