A high-speed Amtrak train was carrying 78 passengers and 5 crew members before it derailed at a highway overpass in Washington state, crashed onto the road below, and wrecked several vehicles, according to a statement from the company, local police, and several state agencies.
Multiple people died and dozens were injured, according to Pierce County Police, although concrete numbers were not available as of 1 p.m. on Monday.
“This catastrophic derailment is horrific,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a Twitter message.
Amtrak Cascades train number 501 was traveling at over 80 mph as it traveled from Tacoma to Olympia and derailed onto the I-5 highway at around 7:30 a.m, The News Tribune reported.
The train derailed near Mounts Road in Pierce County, not far from Olympia, Washington. Photographs of the catastrophe show a mangled car blocking all southbound lanes of the highway while two other cars hang off the overpass.
Chris Karnes, the chairman of the local transit advisory board, was aboard the train when the derailment occurred, News Tribune reported. Karnes told the newspaper that there was “massive damage” and “people are hurt.”
“The train hit a truck apparently,” Karnes tweeted. “I am fine, but the train is destroyed.”
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.
The Washington Free Beacon reported four days before the derailment that holiday travelers were concerned about lax security on Amtrak during the holidays.
Locals Feared Reduced Security Measures
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 the 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.”
“Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency,” Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter.
The state police department announced at 1 p.m. that it expects all I-5 southbound lanes to be closed the entire day.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to depart Washington, DC, today to investigate the derailment.