Six Killed When Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia

Wednesday, May 13th 2015, 7:11 am
By: News On 6

Six people were killed Tuesday night when an Amtrak train headed to New York City from Washington D.C. crashed on a curve in Philadelphia. Six people were hospitalized in critical condition, and 65 more with injuries of some degree.

"It's an absolute, disastrous mess," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. "I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Nutter said there were 243 people aboard the train, including five Amtrak employees. He said there were at least seven cars in various states of disarray. Nutter stressed that investigators didn't yet know what caused the accident.

"I cannot say that everyone is accounted for at this time," Nutter said just after 1 a.m. Eastern, adding that officials were still trying to match up information from the passenger manifest to what area hospitals were saying.

Nutter said crews would work through the night to comb through the wreckage and make sure nobody was still on the train.

In all, more than 140 people went to hospitals to be evaluated or treated after the wreck.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it had confirmed that the engine and all seven cars derailed in the accident. 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."

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was sending a "go-team" to investigate the derailment.

CBS News transportation safety analyst Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the NTSB, said the investigators would immediately begin assessing the tracks, signals and train engine and cars to try and find clues as to the cause. He said the train's event recorder -- much like a commercial airplane's "black boxes," would also be examined to try and piece together the moments before the crash, but warned it could be many months before the cause of the crash was determined conclusively.

Rosenker said there would likely have been only one person in the engine, the train's engineer, at the time of the crash.

All Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia was canceled Tuesday night, and the line on which the accident occurred was likely to be closed for at least the rest of the week.

Train 188, a Northeast Regional, had left Washington, D.C., earlier Tuesday in route to New York. At about 9:30 Eastern, as the train entered a bend, it shook and skipped off the tracks. CBS Philadelphia reports the derailment occurred in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf arrived on the scene in the middle of the night, telling the gathered media he was primarily there to lend support to local officials and pledging, "anything the state can do to help, we stand ready to do that."

An eyewitness to the crash told CBS Philadelphia that he watched as the train entered the curve, and said it looked "like the engine just kept going straight." He said it only narrowly avoided careening into parked tanker cars, which an Amtrak employee later told him were full of fuel.

Nutter confirmed the crash occurred at a point where the tracks curve.