— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 18, 2017
(Note: Ongoing updates will be available at the bottom of this post.)
According to CBS News, an Amtrak train derailed while crossing an overpass on Interstate 5 in Washington state near the city of Dupont. Images from drivers, news crews on the scene, and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s nearby traffic camera reveal several train cars went off the overpass with one now dangling down onto the highway, where all lanes of traffic have been stopped.
Local CBS affiliate KIRO 7 is also reporting that emergency personnel on the scene of the derailment are treating it as a “mass casualty incident.” The Associated Press notes that several “injuries and casualties” are being reported (with CNN later adding that at least three people have been killed).
Passengers who spoke with CBS News, as well as KING 5 reporter Alex Rozier, confirmed the train was the newly minted Amtrak 501 line, which reportedly departed with 70 passengers aboard. The new high speed service was only rated for a top speed of 79 mph in the vicinity of the derailment in Dupont. According to data made available by Amtrak’s real-time location service at the time of the accident, however, the train was traveling at 81 mph.
Chris Karnes, who was on the train when it derailed, told CBS News he “felt this rocking and creaking noise” just before the derailment:
“We had just passed the city of DuPont and it seemed like we were going around a curve,” Karnes said. “All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill. The next thing we know, we’re being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there’s water gushing out of the train. People were screaming.”
“The tracks for this line were supposed to be upgraded to be able to handle higher speeds,” he continued. “I’m not sure what happened at this juncture.”
UPDATE #1 – 12:30pm EST: While addressing reporters at the derailment site, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department revealed there were “multiple [fatalities]” inside the train. However, no one outside the train or on the road below the overpass was apparently killed when the train cars left the tracks and struck the road.
Sheriff: There are multiple fatalities inside the Amtrak train after derailment in Pierce County, Washington. Multiple cars and trucks were struck by falling train cars.
— CNN (@CNN) December 18, 2017
UPDATE #2 – 12:45pm EST: CNN reports that, in addition to at least 3 people killed, 77 more have been transported to area hospitals for evaluation and treatment of injuries.
UPDATE #3 – 2:40pm EST: The cause of the Amtrak derailment is still under investigation, as are rescue efforts. Further details on this derailment will be available here.