Five people were killed, several more are in critical condition and scores more scattered among various local hospitals after the nation’s largest rail service, Amtrak, derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening.
The Amtrak train abruptly overturned in Philadelphia, forcing many to scramble through the windows of toppled cars to escape. The accident has closed the nation’s busiest rail corridor between New York and Washington as federal investigators begin sifting through the mangled remains.
Mayor Michael Nutter, who confirmed the deaths, said the scene was horrific and not all the people on the train had been accounted for.
“It is an absolute disastrous mess,” the grieving mayor said in a press conference. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
He said all seven train cars, including the engine, were in “various stages of disarray.” He said there were cars that were “completely overturned, on their side, ripped apart.”
Train 188, a Northeast Regional, left Washington, D.C. and was headed to New York when it derailed shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday. Amtrak said the train was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members.
More than 140 people went to hospitals to be evaluated or treated, and six were critically injured.
Amtrak said the cause of the derailment was not known and that it was investigating. It was bringing in lights to illuminate the scene overnight as workers examined the wreckage.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was launching an investigative team, which would arrive at the site Wednesday morning. The Federal Railroad Administration said it was dispatching at least eight investigators to the scene.
“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.”