NEW YORK — A subway train derailed in a Queens tunnel on Friday, leading emergency crews to help passengers evacuate through a sidewalk exit. Authorities said four people were sent to the hospital and 15 others suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
The express F train was bound for Manhattan and Brooklyn when it derailed at 10:40 a.m. about 1,200 feet south of the 65th Street station in Woodside, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Caisha Jean Phillipe, 21, of Hempstead, Long Island, told the Wall Street Journal the train stopped suddenly, and she thought she was about to die. Another passenger, Gabrielle Hesop, 25, said he and others initially ‘‘thought we crashed into a train, or we thought the train was on fire.’’
Dozens of firefighters and paramedics with stretchers converged on Broadway and 60th Street, where passengers calmly left the tunnel through the sidewalk opening. A few were treated on stretchers.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on board. A rescue train had been sent.
New York City’s subway system is one of the largest public transportation systems in the world with an average of 5.5 million rides on weekdays. The F train runs through Queens, New York City’s largest borough, under the East River and down Manhattan, then bends back under the East River into Brooklyn.
Derailments are relatively rare in the subway system. The last major derailment was in August 1991, when a No. 4 train came off the tracks at Union Square. Five people were killed and more than 200 were injured. The motorman, who was drunk at the time of the accident, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Transit officials said E, F, M and R trains were running with delays and service changes. Customers could use the J as an alternative. The Long Island Rail Road was cross-honoring tickets at Penn Station, Woodside, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Jamaica.