DUPONT, Wash. — Investigators are scrambling for answers in the deadly train derailment which occurred before 8am PST, Monday, which has claimed at least 3 lives and injured dozens more.
The train, carrying 78 passengers and 5 crew, was reportedly traveling at 81.1 miles per hour when the accident occurred.
Amtrak Train no. 501 left Seattle at 6am PST on Monday, headed for Portland, derailed on the first day of the new Cascades line, about 40 miles south of Seattle at 7.33am, spilling at least one train car onto busy Interstate 5, damaging motor vehicles, and backing up traffic for miles. 12 other train cars were overturned in the accident.
The train was making an inaugural run on a new route that was part of a $180.7m project designed to speed up service.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s office says in a tweet that the train was heading south. All southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and motorists were being warned to avoid the area.
Several motorists in vehicles that were struck by the fallen train cars suffered injuries, but there were no fatalities among people in those vehicles, the sheriff’s office said. Five cars and two semi-trucks were involved in the crash.
Amtrak President & Co-CEO Richard Anderson said “Positive Train Control” (PTC) was not activated on the tracks when the derailment happened. PTC is a technology that automatically slows down, and eventually stops, a train if it senses it is going too fast.
Amtrak says individuals with questions about friends and family on the train should call 800-523-9101.
Quick Facts So Far:
- 12 cars and one engine derailed;
- 3 confirmed dead – all the deaths were contained to the train;
- 26th Amtrak accident since 2014 – 4 in WA state;
- Hazmat teams on the way as a precaution; and
- WA Governor declares State of Emergency.