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Amtrak Train Derails Near Philadelphia—At Least Six Confirmed Dead
The crash in Philadelphia's Port Richmond section is already being called one of the worst in Amtrak's history. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter "said he had visited the site and called it 'an absolute disastrous mess'," report Victor Morton and Dave Boyer of The Washington Times.
“We can confirm at least five individuals deceased,” Nutter told a press conference around 11:40 p.m.
There were early, unverified reports indicating that the train might have hit a CSX freight train. but Mayor Nutter asserted, "We do not know what happened; we do not know why this happened."
The train originated at Union Station, Washington, D.C. around 7:30 p.m. and was en route to New York's Penn Station.
"The Federal Railroad Administration said it had confirmed that the engine and all seven cars derailed in the accident," reports CBS News. "The engine and two cars remained upright, three cars were on their side, one was left nearly on its roof and one was "leaning hard."
In addition to the five confirmed fatalities as of 11:40 pm EST, the time when Mayor Nutter gave his press conference, the Philadelphia Fire Department confirmed that "six people were critically injured and 53 more were transported to area hospitals with lesser injuries."
Early media reports indicated that the derailment occurred when the train was making a turn, somewhat reminiscent of the Metro-North derailment on December 1, 2013 on a curved section of track north of Spuyten Duyvil in The Bronx that killed four people. The cause was blamed on engineer fatigue.
"The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on its Twitter account that it was 'currently gathering information' regarding the derailment," reports Reuters. They are charged with making the determination of the cause of the derailment. It was not reported if Positive Train Control was available or if it would have made a difference.
As devastating as the scene was, one expert indicated that because it was an electrically powered train by overhead lines, no explosions followed by fires occurred that would have been possible due to the fuel present on a diesel powered train.
Amtrak Blog reports that "Northeast Corridor service between New York and Philadelphia is suspended."