Amtrak Washington train crash: Deaths as carriages fall on US motorway

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(BBC) Train carriages have plummeted on to a motorway in Washington state, causing “multiple” fatalities, police say.

The train derailed and the carriages fell on to the I-5 highway below.

Images from the scene show that all the carriages of the high speed train appear to have left the track.

It was Amtrak’s first passenger service to run on a new, shorter route, connecting Olympia and Tacoma. Train 501 had left Seattle, heading south for Portland, at 0600 local time.

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Washington’s governor has declared a state of emergency in two counties.

Aerial images show the carriages on both sides of the track (Reuters photo)

Pierce County Sheriff’s department spokesman Ed Troyer said that there were “multiple” fatalities on the train but no motorists had been killed.

The fire department had taken many people out of the train and they had been taken to hospitals, he added.

Several cars on the highway were struck by the derailed carriages. Aerial images showed the train’s carriages littered across the ground, on both sides of the bridge carrying the railway over the motorway.

One carriage was hanging from the tracks, while another was upside down (WASHINGTON STATE PATROL photo)

Passenger Chris Karnes, on board the train, said the carriage he was on had careened down an embankment then came to a stop: “We could hear and feel the cars crumpling and breaking apart, and water came out from the ceiling.”

“In order to get out… we had to kick out the emergency window,” he added.

Amtrak said approximately 78 passengers and five crew members had been on board the train.

Governor Jay Inslee said he was praying for the many injured.

The incident happened near DuPont, which is southwest of Tacoma.

Officials have set up a family reunification centre at DuPont city hall, and asked people not to come to the scene of the crash.

Before the crash, the train was travelling at more than 80mph (130km/h).

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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