Amtrak train derails off overpass and flips onto highway in Washington state

  • An Amtrak train derailed Monday morning, and part of it fell onto Interstate 5 in Washington state.
  • Amtrak estimates 80 passengers and five crew members were on the train.
  • Authorities said there were at least three deaths, and dozens were hospitalied.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for Pierce and Thurston counties.
  • Amtrak said those who have been unable to contact friends or family on or near the train should call 800-523-9101.

An Amtrak train derailed Monday morning, and several train cars flipped onto Interstate 5 in Washington state, killing at least three people, according to officials cited by the Associated Press.

Here’s the breakdown of the injuries, according to law-enforcement officials who briefed reporters on Monday night:

  • 72 people evaluated and taken to hospitals.
  • 10 people of that group were in serious condition.
  • 4 people moderate injuries.
  • 9 minor injuries.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for Pierce and Thurston counties.

“Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency,” he said in a statement. “Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need.”

The train was scheduled to leave Seattle at 6 a.m. and arrive in Portland, Oregon, at 9:20 a.m Monday, but the accident happened before 8 a.m. south of Tacoma. The accident occurred during the first trip on a new route that was supposed to cut travel times.

Amtrak estimated on its website that 78 passengers and five crew members were on the train.

Authorities have said there were several casualties but have not disclosed the exact number. The Associated Press has reported there were at least six casualties. Pierce County detective Ed Troyer said there were no casualties in any of the cars that were damaged beneath the tracks.

The train had 14 cars, two of which were engines, according to Troyer. All but one car left the tracks. Five automobiles and two semi-trucks were struck by the train cars.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed southbound lanes on I-5 near DuPont and advised drivers to avoid all southbound lanes near Mounts Road, according to the office’s Twitter account.

Amtrak derailmentScreenshot / CBS News

The Washington State Department of Transportation said in a statement that the tracks for the new route had been tested and inspected by several agencies before they were cleared for use. But some still had concerns about the route. Don Anderson, mayor of nearby Lakewood, warned DOT representatives that the route was not safe enough to open to the public at a meeting in December.

“Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,” he said.

Amtrak said those who have been unable to contact friends or family on or near the train should call 800-523-9101.

“On behalf of everyone at Amtrak, we are deeply saddened by all that has happened today,” Amtrak president and co-CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families.”

Amtrak has cancelled Amtrak Cascade trains 504 and 509. Trains from Seattle travelling north and east will continue to run.

While the accident’s cause has not yet been discovered, CNN obtained audio from the Amtrak conductor’s radio call reporting the accident. The conductor said after the train turned a corner onto a bridge, part of it abruptly fell from the track.

US President Donald Trump tweetedMonday afternoon that the accident is evidence that his “soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly.”

Ten minutes later, he expressed his condolences to those affected by the accident.

He highlighted both points at the beginning of a speech about his national-security strategy.

“It is all the more reason why we must start immediately fixing the infrastructure of the United States,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it would launch an investigation into the derailment. NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said investigators from the organisation would arrive at the scene starting this afternoon. The investigators will interview the train’s crew members and collect data from the train.

Photos of the derailment have appeared on Twitter.

This is a developing story. Click here to refresh this page for updates.

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