A woman is aided by New York City firefighters after being evacuated from an emergency staircase following an F train derailment on May 2, 2014 in the Woodside neighborhood of the Queens borough in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
More than a dozen people were injured after a packed subway train derailed in New York City Friday morning.
The express F train carrying 1,000 passengers was heading for Manhattan when six of its eight cars derailed at 10:40 a.m. The train was 1,200 feet south of the 65th Street station in the Woodside section of Queens.
Four people suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to the hospital, while 15 others were treated at the scene. Some complained of chest pains and shortness of breath, The New York Times reports.
Passenger Rashmi Basdeo told the Associated Press the train suddenly "started to tilt and shake."
"It was scary," said the sales associate from Queens, who was taking the train to work in Manhattan. She said she held onto a post as the train came "screeching to a stop."
"We knew it was derailed from the sounds and the position of the car," she said.
Dozens of firefighters, police officers and paramedics converged. They used ladders to help passengers descend from the train to track level and guided them along the track to a sidewalk opening. The derailment happened about 30 feet below street level. Power was cut to the third rail to aid the rescue.
Deputy Assistant Fire Chief James Leonard said the middle six cars of the eight-car train derailed but remained upright.
The cause of the accident, which damaged the express tracks, was unclear.
(MORE: 'Ice Tsunami' Threatens Homes)
There was no switch in the area, and the tracks were no more than 20 to 30 years old, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Tom Prendergast said. The train's operator and conductor will be tested for drugs and alcohol, he said.
Passenger Tayyib Siddiqi said the accident started "with a little bit of turbulence."
"I saw sparks coming out of the right side of the train," Siddiqi said. "And then the train tilted a little bit. There was lot of noise, banging and then it felt like we hit the side wall."
He said a couple of seconds later the train came to a stop.
"The train filled with smoke from the sparks, the brakes or whatnot. It was terrifying. It was a horrifying experience," said Siddiqi, adding that there was a lot of crying and frayed nerves afterward.
The derailment caused "a substantial cloud of dust, which panicked people," but little smoke, Leonard said. The evacuation took about an hour and went smoothly, police and fire officials said.
Derailments are relatively rare in the city's subway system, one of the largest public transportation systems in the world, with 8,000 trips and 5.4 million riders each weekday.
The last major derailment was in August 1991, when five people were killed and more than 200 were injured after a No. 4 train jumped the tracks near Union Square, according to NYC Subway.org. The motorman, who was drunk, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE: Man Has Very Close Call With Train