An Amtrak commuter train heading into New York from Washington derailed and turned over upside down last night. In a statement at 11:41 p.m. est, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said; “Seven cars and engines in “disarray” — turned over, upside down, he said. “It is an absolute, disastrous mess.”
The manifest listed 238 passengers and five crew members on board, according to Amtrak, and the latest reports are now indicating that at least seven people have died and over 200 were injured during the accident.
Reports indicate that all seven cars of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed and came off the tracks near Frankford Junction, on the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane shortly after 9 p.m.
“All of a sudden it felt like the brakes were hit hard and then our car,” said Michael Black, one of the passengers. “We were third from the last, just slowly started going over to the side. I tried to just brace my arm against it and then just got off.”
Those living near the tracks heard the derailment, many coming to the aid of the passengers. Daniel Hernandez stated; “It sounded like a bunch of shopping carts crashing into each other,” He said the crash lasted only a few seconds and then the chaos and screaming began.
“This was an absolute disastrous mess,” Nutter said. “I have never seen anything like it in my life. Many of these folks are not from Philadelphia.”
Nutter, who said the incident was a “Level 3 mass casualty event,” did not speak on a possible cause. “We do not know what happened here,” he said. “We’re not going to try to speculate about that.”
“I’ve never seen anything so devastating,” said Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Jesse Wilson.
“They’re in pretty bad shape. You can see that they’re completely, completely derailed from the track. They’ve been destroyed completely. The aluminum shell has been destroyed and they’ve been overturned completely.”
“This is a nightmare and it can’t be happening,” passenger Joan Elfman told CNN affiliate KYW. “There are many, many injured people.”
The FBI was also on scene to assist in the investigation, but have nothing to indicate the incident was an act of terrorism. Investigators will the National Transportation Safety Board will be arriving throughout today, starting their official investigation into the accident.
Victims have been taken to Temple University Hospital, Aria Health-Frankford, Hahnemann University Hospital, Albert Einstein Medical Center and Jefferson University Hospital. Each taking as many patients as they could efficiently treat, splitting the mass causalities across the board.
The incident required a 4-alarm response, including 120 firefighters and 200 police officers. An emergency response staging area was established at Frankford and Castor streets.
Amtrak shut down rail service between Philadelphia and New York City for the night, and provided a special number for those seeking information on friends and family aboard the train: 1-800-523-9101.
News of the incident has been pouring in through many social media outlets, with Twitter leading the way. Below are some of the most recent tweets:
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) May 13, 2015
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) May 13, 2015
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 13, 2015
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) May 13, 2015
— Mike Hoss WWL-TV (@MHossWWL) May 13, 2015
— Henry Williams (@digitalhen) May 13, 2015
— Scott Dueweke (@Scott_Dueweke) May 13, 2015