Amtrak Train Derails During Inaugural Trip To Seattle (Photos)

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An Amtrak train on its inaugural trip from Portland to Seattle derailed from an overpass and onto Interstate 5 in Washington. At least six people were killed.

The crash occurred during the first trip of Amtrak's new Cascades route, Amtrak Cascades Train 501, on the morning of Dec. 18. The Associated Press reports that the train left the Portland station at about 6 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Seattle three and a half hours later.

Seventy-eight passengers and five crew members were aboard the train when it derailed about 40 miles south of Seattle. According to updates from the Washington State Department of Transportation's Tacoma Traffic Twitter feed, the incident happened shortly before 7:45 a.m.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said no fatalities were reported among motorists, although several were injured after their cars were hit by the falling train cars.

"The only car that is on the tracks is the rear locomotive," said Chris Karnes, who was seated three or four cars away from the front. "There are several cars that are hanging over the overpass."

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The Seattle Times reports that 77 people were hospitalized, according to Washington hospital operator CHI Franciscan Health. Four are critically injured.

“There was one person who was injured in our car," Karnes said. "I was sent to go find help for them. They were breathing but not conscious."

Karnes added that there was one man lying on an embankment who looked like he had been thrown from the train. A lot of the passengers reportedly had "blood on their faces."

A reported $181 million had been invested in the new train route since 2010. The Portland-Seattle route took the Pt. Defiance bypass route, which was designed to avoid slow curves and single-track tunnels. The AP reports that WSDOT tested the track in January and February.

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Maximum speed along the stretch of road where the crash took place is 79 miles per hour, but transit tracking website transitdocs.com reports that the train was traveling at 81.1 mph just before it jumped the tracks, The Seattle Times reports.

President Donald Trump wrote three tweets acknowledging the derailment and expressing concerns about the incident. The first tweet stressed the president's desire to improve infrastructure.

"The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly," Trump tweeted. "Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!"

WSDOT reports that the stretch of highway around the crash is still closed and suggests commuters take alternate routes. Drivers can expect "hours upon hours" of traffic delays.

Sources: AP, The Seattle Times, WSDOT Tacoma Traffic/Twitter (2), Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Featured Image: Loco Steve/Flickr / Embedded Images: Pierce County Sheriff's Department via The Seattle Times

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