'Multiple' deaths as train derails over Washington state highway

Francis Osborne
December 19, 2017

Of the 83 passengers and crew confirmed onboard by Amtrak, local health services said that at least 77 people had been brought to nearby hospitals.

Five vehicles and two trucks were hit and the highway was littered with fragments of the bridge and tree branches.

Pictures from the scene near the city of Tacoma showed one Amtrak train auto overturned and crushed on the interstate highway and others dangling from the overpass.

The Amtrak 501 train was the first high-speed commuter service to use the new track from Seattle to Portland, launched on Monday morning.

It was not immediately clear what has caused the incident, which occurred around 7:30 a.m. (1530 UTC) local time, although one official later said that track obstruction was a possible reason.

CBS News affiliate KIRO-TV reports first responders are treating the derailment as a mass casualty incident.

'Next thing, we're being slammed into the front of our seats.' People kicked out windows to escape, he said.

He was unhurt and is now near the medical tents set up in a median area between north- and sound-bound Interstate 5, just south of DuPont, Washington.

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"We got cars everywhere and down onto the highway", he said.

"We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families", Anderson said. The trains were expected to reach speeds of 79 miles (127 kilometers) per hour through the densely populated area with the improved systems and track.

The state's Department of Transportation says it does not know when that stretch of I-5 will reopen.

Earlier this month, Don Anderson, the mayor of the town of Lakewood, which lies along the new route, had warned that the rails were dangerously close to highways and pedestrian crossings.

The deadly crash "shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly", tweeted President Trump, who was briefed on the derailment. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble!

All southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and motorists were being warned to avoid the area.

At the time, analysts said positive train control technology could have prevented the accident.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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