Six killed after packed New York commuter train smashes into SUV at railroad crossing

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Six people died and 15 were injured when a crowded commuter train slammed into a vehicle on the tracks at a New York crossing and burst into flames.

The collision, which happened in Valhalla, north of New York City, on Tuesday evening, involved a Metro-North Railroad train and a Jeep Cherokee.

The SUV’s driver and five people on board the train were killed, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

During a television appearance he said the number of train passengers killed in the accident had dropped from six to five. He did not give a reason for the change.

Mr Cuomo also said that 15 people were injured, seven of them seriously.

Westchester County executive Rob Astorino said the front part of the train was “completely charred and burned”. “I am amazed anyone got off that train alive,” he said.

Authorities said the SUV’s driver got out of her vehicle momentarily after the crossing’s safety gates came down around the vehicle. She then got back in and was trying to drive forward when she was hit.

It was unclear how fast the train was travelling, but the maximum speed would be 60mph, a railroad official said.

The train shoved the SUV about 10 carriage lengths. Smoke poured out of the scorched front carriage.

Around 650 passengers were on board the train. The other rail passengers were moved to the rear of the train so they could get off. Buses picked them up and took them to other stations.

All railroad grade crossings have gate arms that are designed to lift automatically if they strike something like a car on the way down. The arms are made of wood and are designed to be easily broken if a car trapped between them moves forwards or backwards.

Officials did not comment on whether the gates were working properly.