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Amtrak Train Headed To New York Derails In Philadelphia; At Least 5 Dead

UPDATED 05/13/15 6:10 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) -- An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed in Philadelphia late Tuesday, leaving at least five people dead and 140 more injured.

Northeast Regional Train 188 left Union Station in Washington, D.C. around 7 p.m., and was supposed to arrive at Penn Station at 10:34 p.m. Tuesday.

But the train derailed around 9:30 p.m. for unknown reasons and crashed in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. A four-alarm response was raised by the Philadelphia Fire Department, which also declared a level 3 mass casualty incident.

"It is an absolute disastrous mess. I've never seen anything like this in my life, and most personnel will say that as well," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said.

As of Wednesday morning, 140 people were transported to area hospitals, and six people were in critical condition. Some of the walking wounded were taken from the scene to area hospitals on SEPTA buses, KYW-TV, Philadelphia reported.

At least 10 people were taken to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, KYW reported.

Patients were also taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, and Aria Health Torresdale and Aria Health Frankford hospitals in Philadelphia, as well as several other hospitals, KYW reported.

Hahnemann and Temple received so many patients that they had to close, KYW reported.

Anyone who might have a family member or loved one on the train may call (800) 523-9101 for information on passengers or victims.

Meanwhile, all Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia was canceled for the night, Amtrak said.

NJ TRANSIT also suspended Atlantic City Rail Line service between the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and Pennsauken Transit Center in Camden County due to the derailment.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) later said there were eight cars on the train and three or more cars derailed.

An unidentified Amtrak employee told KYW-TV's David Spunt that seven cars were off the tracks.

The aluminum shells of the cars were destroyed, and the cars overturned completely, according to Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Jesse Wilson.

The engine also separated from the train, KYW reported.

Schumer said one of the cars that derailed was a club car, where passengers were likely standing and snacking. A club car derailment made for a greater chance of serious injuries, Schumer said.

A total of 238 passengers and five crew members were on board, Amtrak said. Several people were trapped and had to be removed with hydraulic equipment, officials said.

The Amtrak employee told Spunt said just after midnight Wednesday morning, crews were going through with a saw to make sure everyone was accounted for.

"I take this train routinely. It's always a pretty routine train to ride, but you're never too far away from danger, and that's why safety has to come first," Schumer told CBS2.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, it made for a frightening and eerie sight from a news helicopter overhead. Dozens of flashlight beams pierced the night – each held by a first responder looking for injured people.

"It was extremely chaotic," said a man named Khaled, who rushed to the scene as a volunteer. "There are more ambulances coming as we speak."

Khaled said one of the cars was practically "ripped in half."



The front of the train was going into a turn when it shook, the Associated Press reported. There is a sharp curve on the tracks in the industrial area where the derailment happened, KYW reported.

An Associated Press employee on the train says it appears the train went off the tracks. Paul Cheung says he was fortunate to be at the back of the train and the front of it ``looks pretty bad.''

Police swarming the neighborhood where the crash occurred were telling people to get back.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was on the train and says he has been helping people. He has been tweeting photos of firefighters helping people in the wreckage, and passengers who were bleeding from injuries.

Murphy said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) had been on the train earlier, but had gotten off before the derailment.

"I am grateful to be home safe and sound in Wilmington, and my heart goes out to all those on the train tonight," Carper said in a statement. "I hope all of those that are injured recover quickly, and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers."

Beth Davidz, a Brooklyn-based journalist, reported on Twitter that she was on the train. She tweeted that she was "fine" and that she was not on the quiet car – which she said was among those that derailed.

"That car and others not looking good," Davidz wrote.

One woman from Watchung, New Jersey told KYW she was coming back with her son from a medical conference in Washington, when the "nightmare" happened.

"We were just on the train and all of a sudden, it started to shake, and we were in the front seat, and this huge red suitcase just came flying at me," the woman said. "Our train was actually on its side, so it pushed me onto the side of the train. It hit my chest; I actually think I have a few fractured ribs."

The woman is a nurse, and tried to help the others who were injured. Her son led everyone out of one train car through a small opening.

"I could see the blood on people's faces; they can't move. Their knees were out," the woman's adult son said.

Many others tweeted reports of smoke in the train.

Schumer said there was an added problem in that the Amtrak operators cannot communicate with local first responders.

Amtrak issued a tweet saying the crash was under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board was also at the scene gathering information.

Philadelphia police put out an alert asking people to stay away from the derailment scene so first responders could do their jobs.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that he was in contact with state and local authorities about the derailment and was closely monitoring the situation.

"My thoughts and prayers are with all involved in the Amtrak train accident in Philadelphia tonight. Thank you to the first responders," Wolf said via Twitter.

Another Amtrak train crashed on Sunday. That train, bound for New Orleans, struck a flatbed truck at a railway crossing in Amite, killing the truck's driver and injuring two people on the train.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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