8:45 AM EST: This post has been updated with the latest information from transportation authorities.
Six people have been killed and others are injured after a commuter train from New York City hit a vehicle on the tracks during rush hour, according to officials. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said that five passengers on the train and a woman standing outside the vehicle were killed, and that 15 more were injured
The incident — the worst accident in the history of Metro North — happened Tuesday near the town of Valhalla, New York. More than 700 people were on board the train.
Spokesman Donovan says at 6:30pm ET, a Jeep Cherokee was struck while crossing the tracks at Commerce Street. Both the vehicle and a portion of the train caught fire.
Metro-North Railroadsaid service on the Harlem Line was suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville because of the collision. The line runs from Harlem, a neighbourhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Wassaic in southeast New York state.
An earlier report that two vehicles had been struck was incorrect, said Donovan.
Photos from the crash site show the extent of the damage.
Many passengers reportedly escaped from the rear of the train after the collision. First responders can be seen assessing the situation on scene.
A smouldering train car sits idle at the crash site:
Spokesman Donovan says several hundred passengers have been taken to a local business for shelter. He says the train car that collided with the Jeep dragged the car several train car lengths before finally coming to a stop.
Passengers could be seen walking through snow as they moved away from the burning wreckage.
Roads were blocked off for many blocks around the site, and the entire area is lit up with lights from emergency and police vehicles. A Reuters witness saw emergency workers carrying someone off the train on a stretcher at around 9:45 p.m. local time.
Smoke poured out of the damaged train cars as firefighters worked to douse the flames.
Portions of the train have been reduced to a smouldering wreck.
Witnesses told the New York Times they heard passengers moaning as they tried to escape the train. Emergency workers are seen surveying the damage.
Shuttle train service has been operating between Grand Central Terminal and North White Plains, and between Pleasantville and Southeast. Limited shuttle bus service was operating between North White Plains and Pleasantville, according to the MTA.
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