At least seven people died in an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, and at least 200 more have been reported as injured.
The train, which was carrying 238 people and headed to New York from Washington D.C., reportedly jumped the tracks and rolled onto its side while traveling through the Port Richmond section of the city.
Officials are still not sure what caused the derailment. The black box data recorder has been recovered, and it’s being analyzed at Amtrak’s operation center in Delaware, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a news conference today.
Nutter told CNN that it did not appear that the crash resulted from a collision with a second train. Investigators are now looking at speed as an issue in the crash.
Among the passengers was Associated Press manager Paul Cheung, who said he was watching Netflix when he felt the train start to decelerate. “Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake,” he said. “You could see people’s stuff flying over me.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC anchor Patrick J. Murphy was also on the train and he urged people to pray for those injured, Tweeting a picture of the scene from inside his train car.
With details still coming in from the scene of the accident, NBC 10 reports that Nutter called it a “level-3 mass casualty event.”
“This was an absolute disastrous mess,” Nutter said. “I have never seen anything like it in my life.”
Passenger Yameen Allword posted a video on Instagram reportedly showing the immediate aftermath of the crash, along with the text “My train crashed.”
According to a report from ABC 6 News, the train had begun to go around a turn when it started to shake. One passenger told the station, “Basically, the train tilted over and rolled.”
In a statement, President Barack Obama says the derailment is “a tragedy that touches us all.”
“Along with Americans across our country, Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the derailment aboard Amtrak Train 188. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last night, and to the many passengers who today begin their long road to recovery,” he said.
“Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many. From Washington, DC and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all,” he continued. “As we work to determine exactly what happened, I commend the fire, police and medical personnel working tirelessly and professionally to save lives. Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love – a city of neighborhoods and neighbors – and that spirit of loving-kindness was reaffirmed last night, as hundreds of first responders and passengers lent a hand to their fellow human beings in need.”
Those searching for loved ones who may have been aboard the train are being directed to call an Amtrak hotline at 1 (800) 523-9101.
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