Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia, at least 6 dead

NTSB to investigate derailment of an Amtrak train headed from DC to NYC, a heavily traveled route

An Amtrak train headed from Washington to New York City derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing six people and causing multiple injuries.

In addition to the five deaths announced by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Tuesday night, Temple University Hospital's Dr. Herbert Cushing said Wednesday that a crash victim died there overnight from a chest injury.

More than 130 people were hospitalized, and six were critically injured when the train derailed shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

“It is an absolute disastrous mess,” Nutter said. “I've never seen anything like this in my life.”

He said there were train cars that were “completely overturned, on their side, ripped apart.”

“It is a devastating scene down there,” Nutter said. “We walked the entire length of the train area, and the engine completely separated from the rest of the train, and one of the cars is perpendicular to the rest of the cars. It's unbelievable.”

The National Transportation Safety Board expects to have full crews at the scene Wednesday morning to investigate the cause of the accident.

Amtrak said there were 238 passengers and five crewmembers aboard the derailed No. 188 train on route from Washington to New York. Amtrak added that service along its busy Northeast corridor between New York and Philadelphia had been suspended. Nutter later said he doubted the service could be restored through Philadelphia this week.

Officials say all seven cars came off the tracks.

“While there is still much we don’t know, we at the U.S. Department of Transportation are deeply saddened by reports of multiple fatalities and injuries,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families. We urge the public to allow time for first responders to do their critical work. DOT officials are already onsite, and we will work with NTSB to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this devastating event.”

The area where the derailment occurred is known as Frankford Junction and has a big curve. It's not far from where one of the nation's deadliest train accidents occurred: the 1943 derailment of The Congressional Limited, from Washington to New York, which killed 79 people.

Police swarming around the crash site, in Port Richmond, a densely populated area of row houses that has recently become a popular place to live among younger adults in the city, told people to get back, away from the train.

The officers pleaded with curious onlookers: "Do NOT go to scene of derailment. Please allow 1st responders room to work."

Several injured people, including one man complaining of neck pain, were rolled away on stretchers. Others wobbled while walking away or were put on city buses. An elderly woman was given oxygen.

Passenger Daniel Wetrin, was among more than a dozen people taken to a nearby elementary school afterward.

“I think the fact that I walked off (the train) kind of made it even more surreal because a lot of people didn't walk off,” he said. “I walked off as if, like, I was in a movie. There were people standing around, people with bloody faces. There were people, chairs, tables mangled about in the compartment ... power cables all buckled down as you stepped off the train.”

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was on the train and tweeted photos of firefighters helping other people in the wreckage.

The crash was the latest in a series of rail accidents on heavily traveled passenger trains over the past year.

In March, 21 people were injured in Los Angeles when a light-rail train struck a car that turned in front of it near the University of Southern California, a month after 50 people were hurt and an engineer fatally injured when a Los Angeles-bound Metrolink commuter train hit a pickup truck.

In February, five people were killed and a dozen injured when the Metro North commuter train they were riding in north of New York City hit an SUV on the tracks during rush hour. The driver of the vehicle also died. In December 2013, a Metro-North train derailed going around a bend just north of Manhattan, killing four.

On Sunday, an Amtrak train bound for New Orleans struck a flatbed truck at a railway crossing in Amite, killing the truck's driver and injuring two people on the train.

In March, at least 55 people were injured when an Amtrak train collided with a tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks in North Carolina.

Wire services

Post by AJ+.

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