An Amtrak derailment in DuPont, Washington, Monday morning has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.
Authorities say at least three people are dead after part of Amtrak’s newly opened Cascades 501 line careened off an overpass near Mounts Road in Dupont and landing on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 below.
Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma is serving as the main hospital receiving casualties from the train crash, but the hospital did not disclose how many patients it has seen.
A spokesman for Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia told The Seattle Times that it had received about a dozen patients, three of whom were in critical condition.
Seattle’s KOMO NewsRadio reported that a total of 77 people had been transported to area hospitals.
According to CBS News, “Amtrak 501, which departed shortly before 8 a.m. local time from Tacoma, was part of a new service that launched Monday morning.” The train, which can carry 250 people, was headed to Portland, Oregon. Amtrak said there were 78 passengers and five crew members aboard the train when it derailed.
A passenger interviewed by CBS said that at least seven train cars had derailed. Aerial footage of the crash site shows numerous train cars on the street below the overpass, as well as at least one tractor-trailer and multiple cars damaged by falling cars and debris. An unknown number of motorists were injured but no on-the-ground fatalities were reported.
Amtrak tweeted that the 501 train had left Seattle at 6 a.m. on its inaugural run to Portland.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said that the train was traveling on a new bypass created to avoid slow curves and “single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway main line tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound.”
“Passenger trains will avoid the slower, congested route. This will improve travel times and free up space on the congested route, resulting in an improved rail system,” WSDOT said.
After the crash, Amtrak said it had canceled its 504 and 509 Cascade Trains and was not providing alternate transportation.
Authorities are urging motorists to avoid traveling in the southbound lanes of I-5 as detours are set up. All southbound lanes of I-5 are closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and are expected to remain closed for the rest of the day, the Washington State Patrol said.
According to CBS News, the Seattle to Portland Cascade line has a maximum speed of 79 mph for the section where it derailed.
“We had just passed the city of DuPont and it seemed like we were going around a curve,” passenger Chris Karnes told CBS News. “All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill. The next thing we know, we’re being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there’s water gushing out of the train. People were screaming.”
CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports the train tracks where the derailment occurred are not owned by Amtrak but maintained by a freight railroad.
Authorities said the accident remains under investigation and have not said what could have caused the Amtrak train to jump its tracks.