'Amtrak Cascades' train derails onto Washington highway

RELATED TOPICS: PASSENGER | AMTRAK | WEST | DERAILMENTS | BNSF
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This overall view shows cars off both sides of the tracks at the Interstate 5 bridge near DuPont, Wash.
Two photos, Steve Carter
SEATTLE – Several people are dead after a southbound Amtrak Cascades train derailed on an overpass above Interstate 5 near Olympia. Although several motorists were injured when the train fell off the bridge, there were no fatalities on the roadway below.

Amtrak reports that there were 78 passengers and five crew members on board.

A photo posted by the Washington Department of Transportation shows multiple passenger cars and a locomotive blocking the highway and hanging off an overpass.

Amtrak confirmed via Twitter that the derailment involved train No. 501, a Seattle to Portland Cascades run that was inaugurated today with the opening of the new Point Defiance Bypass. The new route takes Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit trains away from Puget Sound and inland toward Interstate 5, allowing for additional service between Seattle and Portland. The derailment occurred on the new bypass between Lakewood and Olympia.

Amtrak has temporarily suspended service south of Seattle. Amtrak is encouraging people with questions about friends and family who may have been aboard the train to call 800-523-9101.

The National Transportation Safety Board is mobilizing a team to investigate the derailment.

Amtrak President and Co-CEO Richard Anderson told CNN this afternoon that positive train control had not been in use on the train.

CBS News affiliate KIRO-TV talked to a man aboard the train who said at least seven cars derailed.

The train was a Talgo Series 6 trainset, Mount Adams, owned by the State of Washington. The state owns three Series 6 train sets and Amtrak owns two Series 6 train sets. The Series 6 fleet were assembled in Seattle on 1998 and started revenue service in 1999, according to a Talgo spokeswoman.

"We had just passed the city of DuPont and it seemed like we were going around a curve," Chris Karnes says. "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."

State, local and federal officials were offering support and assistance to first responders and investigators immediately after the derailment. CNN reported that President Donald Trump had also been briefed and was monitoring the situation. Soon after the derailment, Trump tweeted that the incident "shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly" to repair "crumbling infrastructure." However, federal officials have yet to determine what caused the derailment on the recently rebuilt route.

“This catastrophic derailment is horrific," Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan says. "My thoughts are with the passengers, families and those injured as well as our first responders, firefighters and police who rushed to the scene."

“Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency. Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says.

This story was updated at 6:24 a.m. Dec. 19.
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Amtrak P42 No. 181 marks the end of 'Cacades' train No. 501 that derailed on Monday morning.
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