Train derails over Washington state highway

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DUPONT, United States: An Amtrak passenger train traveling on a new route for the first time derailed Monday (Tuesday in Manila) in Washington state, killing at least three people as cars plunged off a bridge onto a busy highway at the height of morning rush hour, officials said.

The train, which was carrying 77 passengers and seven crew, derailed in DuPont about halfway between Tacoma and the state capital Olympia on a curve that passes over busy Interstate 5 at about 7:40 a.m. (1540 GMT).

Pictures from the scene showed one Amtrak train car overturned and crushed on the interstate highway and others dangling from the overpass.

RUSH HOUR CHAOS The scene of a portion of the Interstate I-5 highway after an Amtrak high-speed train derailed from an overpass early Monday (Tuesday in Manila) near the city of Tacoma, Washington state. AFP PHOTO

Several other carriages of the 14-car train also ended up on the highway, shutting down a key section of the busy artery that connects the greater Seattle metropolitan area to Olympia. All but one car jumped the tracks.


A spokeswoman for Washington State police, Brooke Bova, confirmed the death toll, adding that all train cars had been searched by emergency personnel.

But she cautioned that several of the roughly 100 people taken to area hospitals were in critical condition.

“We don’t know if that number will change,” Bova said of the death toll.

Officials gave no reason for the derailment of southbound Amtrak train 501, the inaugural run of a new service that promised faster connections between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

Local officials had warned only weeks ago that the track still might not be safe enough to handle trains at higher speeds.

None of the people in vehicles traveling on the highway below the train were killed, according to Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Police said five vehicles and two trucks were hit on the highway.

AFP

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