WASHINGTON -- Daylight on Wednesday revealed the destruction and devastation caused by an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia that left at least six people dead and injured dozens more, at least eight critically.
The accident has closed the nation’s busiest rail corridor between New York and Washington as federal investigators begin sifting through the twisted remains to determine what went wrong.
Dr. Herb Cushing, the chief medical officer at Temple University Hospital, says his hospital received 54 patients, including one who died after arriving. Twenty-five were treated and released; eight people are still in critical condition.
Train 188 had departed from Washington, D.C., Tuesday night. Amtrak says about 238 passengers and five crew members were on the train.
"It is an absolute disastrous mess,'' Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. "I've never seen anything like this in my life.''
Nutter also said train cars were "completely overturned, on their side, ripped apart." He said seven train cars, including the engine, were in "various stages of disarray." The Associated Press says all seven cars that derailed came off the tracks.
The Associated Press reports that an AP manager, Paul Cheung, was on the train and said he was watching Netflix when “the train started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake.”
“Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake,” he said. “You could see people’s stuff flying over me.”
Cheung said another passenger urged him to escape from the back of his car, which he did. He said he saw passengers trying to escape through the windows of cars tipped on their sides.
“The front of the train is really mangled,” he said. “It’s a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal.”
Amtrak service was suspended between New York and Philadelphia late Tuesday.
For Wednesday, Amtrak says modified service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton, according to Amtrak.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy tweeted that he was on the train, and shared photos of firefighters helping people.
Cushing, from Temple University Hospital, says that the patient who died in the hospital had massive chest trauma; he adds that most of the injuries are fractures. He said that the patients who arrived at the hospital who were awake and able to communicate were in the last two cars of the train, and described being hit by people and things flying around the cars.
Amtrak issued a statement around 1:15 a.m. Wednesday saying, "We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening."
The cause of the derailment is currently unknown, but the NTSB says it is launching an investigative team.
The Associated Press reports the area where the derailment occurred, Frankford Junction, has a big curve and is near where another deadly train derailment happened in 1943. Seventy-nine people were killed in that incident.
Anyone who has questions about family or friends on the train can call 800-523-9101 for information.
Amtrak also said a Family Assistance Center was established to work with families and friends of those on the train.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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