The Seattle Times is reporting six fatalities after an Amtrak train derailed near Dupont, Washington at 7:40 a.m. PST Monday. There were 78 passengers and five crew members aboard the train when it derailed from a bridge on Interstate 5, blocking the southbound lanes of the highway. According to one passenger, the train was traveling around 70 mph when the incident occurred. Following the derailment, Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency. One witness told MSNBC he and others did what they could to help victims while they waited for emergency crews to arrive.
The train was on its first trip of a new route that goes from Seattle to Portland, Oregon when it derailed. The new route, known as the Point Defiance Bypass Project, is part of an $800 million project called the Cascades High-Speed Rail Capital Program. It was aimed at adding more frequent, reliable, and faster service between Seattle and Portland, but it included tight curves and single-track tunnels.
Lakewood mayor Don Anderson said he and many others were wary of the high-speed trains that would travel through their communities. In July, an incident on the prior route injured many of the 267 people aboard a train that derailed as it approached a drawbridge on the Puget sound.
Images from the derailment depict a perilous sight, with one train car dangling from the bridge above the highway. According to a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, dozens of people were injured in the incident, including some motorists on the highway. Officials are saying no motorists were killed, however. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate; meanwhile, a rescue operation is well underway.
According to the City of Lacey, St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is requesting blood donations to help the victims. Amtrak has asked those seeking information about their friends and family who may have been aboard the train to call 1-800-523-9101. A family reunification center has been set up at DuPont City Hall.