Amtrak Washington train crash: Deaths as carriages fall on US motorway

GOB | News | World    Last update: 19/12/2017 15:55:26

A US passenger train on its inaugural run in Washington state has derailed, with carriages crashing on to the motorway below at the height of the morning rush hour.

A number of people died and many more were injured on board the train, which hit vehicles on the I-5 highway below.

Images from the scene showed that all the carriages of the high-speed train had left the track.

It was Amtrak's first passenger service to run on a new, shorter route.

Train 501 had left Seattle, heading south for Portland, at 06:00 local time (14:00 GMT). The derailment happened on a section of track, south of Tacoma, previously only used for freight trains.

Authorities quoted by Associated Press spoke of at least six people killed, although the number was expected to rise. Another 77 people have been taken to hospital, reports say.

However, state police said they were giving out no information on the number of casualties.

They did not know if anyone remained trapped on board, Trooper Brooke Bova said.

"We still need to stabilise those cars so we can do a secondary search," she added.

Brooke Bova refused to say whether anyone had been hurt on the road itself.

Seven vehicles, two of them lorries, were hit on the interstate highway below.

One passenger carriage could be seen dangling from the bridge, while others were strewn across the road and the wooded area next to the track.

A photograph released by Washington State Patrol showed one carriage upside down on the road, with wreckage all around it.

Pierce County Sheriff's department spokesman Ed Troyer said there were "multiple" fatalities on the train but no motorists had been killed.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the train had derailed at 0733 local time (1533 GMT).

There were 77 customers and seven Amtrak crew members on board, she said.

A recording of the train's emergency call to railway dispatchers was released to US media.

"Emergency! We are on the ground!" a man, possibly the conductor, radios in.

In a second radio call, another crew member reports that only the rear unit remains on the rails.

"All other cars appear to be on the ground in quite a mess," he says.

The train's engineer has a head injury, he tells dispatchers.

President Donald Trump's first reaction to the derailment was to tweet that it showed the need for his forthcoming infrastructure plan.