At least five people died when an Amtrak train bound for New York City derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, with six cars overturning and the engine separating from the rest of the train.
Amtrak reported that there were approximately 238 passengers and five crew members on board. Dozens of passengers have been taken to local hospitals for injuries.
"It is an absolute disastrous mess," Nutter said this evening. "Never seen anything like this in my life."
A spokesman for the fire department confirmed that in addition to the five known casualties, there were six critical cases and 43 others who were transported to local hospitals with injuries. Many of the other passengers were considered "walking wounded" and were able to exit the train on their own.
The front end of the Northeast Regional train, which was was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York City on Tuesday night, reportedly shook as it went into a turn and the train's seven cars went off the rails. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that the engine of the train and two cars are upright, three are laying on their sides, one is nearly on it's roof and one is leaning dramatically.
The fire department responded to the scene at about 9:28 p.m. and it was quickly elevated to a level three mass casualty incident because of the number of personnel at the scene.
First responders used hydraulic tools to help trapped passengers out of the mangled cars.
"The engine completely separated from the rest of the train and one of the cars is perpendicular to the rest of the cars," Nutter said. "It's unbelievable."
Former Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy was on the train and he tweeted that he was all right and was trying to help others. He told ABC's Philadelphia station, WPVI, that he heard a "bang," and the train "wobbled" from one side to the other.
"Obviously there was a lot of mayhem," he told WPVI. "People were pretty banged up. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. I pulled myself up. The guy who I kind of landed on was OK. The guy next to him was completely passed out, knocked unconscious."
Murphy said the unconscious man came-to, got off the train and began to help other people. Murphy said to his knowledge, most people had gotten off the train as of 11:15 p.m.
Paul Cheung, an Associated Press employee who was on the train told the AP it appeared the train went off the tracks. He said he was fortunate to be at the back of the train and the front "looks pretty bad."
"The front of the train is really mangled," he said. "It's a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal."
Amtrak canceled all service between New York and Philadelphia shortly after 11 p.m.
The National Transportation Safety Board is launching a go-team that will arrive at the crash site in the morning, and the Federal Railroad Administration said it was dispatching a team of investigators to the site this evening but were unable to confirm any details about the incident.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that he is closely monitoring the situation and is in contact responding authorities.
"For those who lost their lives, those who were injured, and the families of all involved, this situation is devastating," he said in a statement.
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