The train failed to stop as it sped into Hoboken station, went up over the bumper blocks at the end of the track and rammed into a wall, a New Jersey transit official told AFP at the scene.
Michael Larson, another transit employee, told reporters he heard a “bomb—like explosion” as the train hit the bumpers with such force that it went airborne, hitting the station’s roof and causing it to partly collapse.
“It was going considerably faster than it should have normally been at the terminal,” he said. “It went up and over the bumper block, through the depot… and came to rest at the wall by the waiting room.”
Video and photos on social media showed major damage to the transit hub just over the Hudson river from Manhattan, with the train tangled in wires and debris from what appeared to be caved in portions of the roof.
Passengers described the train, which was carrying around 250 people, ramming at full speed into the bumper at the end of the track.
“We never slowed down,” Jim Finan, a commuter from New Jersey, told Fox News. “We ploughed, I mean, right through the bumper.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie confirmed to CNN one fatality from the early morning accident. US media earlier reported that three people had died. No official toll was immediately available. State transit spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson told reporters at the scene that more than 100 people were injured, with “multiple critical injuries.”
All the victims have been evacuated to two local hospitals.
Kenneth Garay, chief medical officer at Jersey City medical center, said its surgeons were “all hands on deck” as they treat patients suffering from orthopaedic injuries, internal injuries and lacerations.