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'Absolutely staggering': Dozens injured in Connecticut train crash

Officials toured the scene of a two-train collision in Connecticut that injured dozens of people and halted rail traffic from New York to Boston on Friday. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

Officials toured the scene of a two-train collision in Connecticut that injured dozens of people and halted rail traffic from New York to Boston on Friday.

Area hospitals reported seeing 70 people after the rush-hour collision. Two remained in critical condition on Saturday.

“The damage is absolutely staggering,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told reporters on Saturday after a tour of the scene. “Ribbons on the sides of cars are torn away like ribbons of clothes. Tons of metal tossed around like toy things. The insides of cars are shattered.”

“We are fortunate that even more injuries were not the result of this very tragic and unfortunate accident,” Blumenthal said.

Connecticut Governor Malloy holds a press conference after two Metro North trains collided injuring 60, 5 critically.

An eastbound Metro-North train derailed at 6:10 p.m. on Friday and was struck by a westbound train between the Bridgeport and Fairfield stations, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told reporters on Saturday.

Investigators from the NTSB arrived in Connecticut at about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and planned to begin documenting the scene of the crash, Weener said. Investigators planned to spend between seven to 10 days on scene, and will conduct interviews with the train’s crew members, passengers, and witnesses.

“We will not be determining the probable cause of the accident while we’re here on the scene, nor will we speculate on what may have caused the accident,” Weener said.

Later on Saturday, investigators said they had zeroed in on a fractured part of the rail line as being of particular interest. It has not been determined whether that fracture happened before or as a result of the accident, they said.

The FBI is no longer a part of the investigation, authorities said.

St. Vincent Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn. said on Saturday that it saw a total of 44 patients, six of whom were admitted for treatment. All those patients remained in the hospital on Saturday and were reported to be in stable condition.

Bridgeport Hospital saw a total of 26 patients and admitted three. Two of those patients were in critical condition a day after the accident, and a third was being held for further treatment.

Passengers who were on the two trains described the rending collision in vivid terms.

“We came to a sudden halt. We were jerked. There was smoke,” passenger Alex Cohen, a Canadian who was riding the westbound train toward New York, told NBC Connecticut.

“People were screaming, people were really nervous,” Cohen said. “We were pretty shaken up. They had to smash a window to get us out.”

A female conductor helped other passengers evacuate the train despite herself sustaining back injuries, authorities said at a press conference late Saturday afternoon.

The Metro-North train that departs New York City’s Grand Central Station for New Haven, Conn., at 4:41 p.m., with an estimated 300 passengers, derailed near the I-95 overpass in Bridgeport, MTA said in a statement. The train that leaves New Haven’s State Street station for Grand Central at 5:30 p.m., carrying about 400 passengers, struck the derailed train, the statement said.

Amtrak service between New York City and New Haven, Conn. remained suspended on Saturday following the accident, Amtrak said in a release. Trains would not run through Sunday, and the train service said it could not give an estimate on when schedules may return to normal.

Amtrak service between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., remained as scheduled, Amtrak said.

Metro-North, which runs between New York City and its northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut, is one of the busiest commuter rail services in the U.S. There are four tracks on that segment of the New Haven Line, an MTA statement said, but two are out of service for replacement of overhead wires.

There was "extensive damage" to the track and the wire from the collision, MTA said. The train cars will remain in place until the investigation is completed.

NBC News Carlo Dellaverson and M. Alex Johnson contributed to this report.

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