An Amtrak train traveling at more than 80 miles per hour derailed from a highway overpass in Washington State onto car traffic on the I-5 highway on Monday morning, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation and several media outlets.
Injuries and deaths were reported, but the numbers are yet to come, according to a tweet from the Pierce County Police Sheriff’s Department. The train struck multiple cars on the highway, NBC reported.
Part of the train fell onto the interstate around 7:30 a.m., causing several injuries, The News Tribune reported.
In photos posted on social media, a train car can be seen hanging from a highway overpass and resting on the road underneath, blocking traffic in both directions. First responders are treating the derailment as a high-casualty incident.
The train derailed near Mounts Road in Pierce County not far from Olympia, Wash. Based on preliminary photographs, the second and third cars appear derailed, while the locomotive appeared to be on the rails.
Chris Karnes, the chairman of Pierce Transit’s advisory board, reported “massive damage” and said “people are hurt,” News Tribune reported.
Train number is 501 departed Tacoma at 6:45 a.m. and was en route to Olympia when the derailment occurred, according to a schedule on the Amtrak website. An airlift helicopter was en route to the scene, KIRO 7 News reported.
“The train hit a truck apparently,” Karnes tweeted. “I am fine, but the train is destroyed.”
“We are aware of an incident involving Amtrak train 501,” Amtrak wrote on Twitter. “We will update with additional details as they become available.”
The Washington State Department of Transportation advised all drivers to avoid the area.
The Lakewood City Council has had concerns about the speed of the train leading up to the incident.
“Our thoughts are with those impacted by this morning’s tragic events,” Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib said, according to the News Tribune.
— Rachel Calderon (@rachelkiro7) December 18, 2017
According to a schedule posted on the Amtrak website, the 501 train was making its maiden journey. The company announced that four new Amtrak Cascades trains would start running on Dec. 18.
The Washington Free Beacon reported four days before the derailment that holiday travelers were concerned about lax security on Amtrak during the holidays. The ISIS and al Qaeda terrorist groups have repeatedly told their followers to attack the U.S. rail system. Meanwhile, Amtrak reduced some security measures in order to cut costs, Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, told Free Beacon.
“I was surprised, a few weeks ago, to find that Amtrak personnel were no longer checking passengers’ tickets at the entry gate, nor requesting ID for ticket purchases,” Stalinsky wrote in a report on MEMRI’s website. “Pointing this out to the conductor, I was informed that these are new cost-cutting measures, and this was confirmed by other Amtrak employees.”
Reuters contributed to this report.