Authorities are reporting that at least six people are dead after an Amtrak train carrying 78 passengers and five crew members derailed off a bridge onto Interstate 5 Monday morning.
KCPQ reports that at least six people died and dozens more were injured when Amtrak train 501 heading southbound from Seattle derailed onto I-5 near Tacoma around 7:30 a.m. PST.
Officials say that multiple motorists on the road were injured after being struck by the derailed train cars, but none had been killed.
At least 42 people were transported to hospitals in the area, officials said. Madigan Army Medical Center said in a statement that nine people are in serious but stable condition and 11 are in fair condition and stable.
The train had been traveling at a speed of 81.1 miles per hour (mph) before the derailment, according to transitdocs.com, a website that tracks the location and speed of Amtrak trains using Amtrak’s railroad tracker.
Amtrak tweeted a statement that they are aware that Amtrak Cascades Train 501 between Seattle and Portland derailed and are actively monitoring local news reports for more information. They also announced that service for the 504 and 509 Cascades trains has been canceled.
A highway camera showed one of the train cars plunging on the road, causing a traffic jam. Another car could be seen hanging off the overpass.
“All of the sudden, everyone just started locking up the brakes and the train was just dangling off part of the tracks,” said Kolter Raudebauga, who witnessed the accident while on his way to work in Olympia.
Another witness said she saw first responders helping the injured.
“First responders actually climbed up into the dangling cars to get people out,” Simmons told KCPQ. “People were pulling first aid kits out of their cars — putting jackets on people.”
Chris Kaines, the chair of Pierce County’s transportation advisory board, tweeted that the derailed train appeared to have hit a truck, destroying one of the train cars.
KING reports that highway officials closed all southbound lanes of I-5 for an indefinite period, but two northbound lanes remain open. Authorities are telling drivers to avoid the area of the derailment and expect delays on alternate routes.
The accident comes on the first day that state officials began operating a high-speed rail line along I-5—a proposal that has been met with criticism from city leaders in Lakewood who say that there would be an increase in accidents.
President Trump, after being briefed about the situation, tweeted that the accident proved the need for better infrastructure in this country:
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. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017