Philly mayor describes historic train crash, search for passengers
WASHINGTON - The death toll from Tuesday night's train derailment in Philadelphia has climbed to seven after searchers pulled a body from the wreckage, Mayor Michael Nutter confirmed.
Two of those killed have been identified as a Naval Academy midshipman from New York and an Associated Press employee.
More than 200 others were taken to hospitals including eight who were critically injured.
Approximately 243 people were believed to have been onboard the train heading from D.C. to New York when the engine and seven cars came off the tracks along a curve about 9 p.m. Tuesday.
"To see it in the daytime, is almost indescribable. It is painful. It is amazing. It is incredible that so many people walked away from that scene...I don't know how that happened but for the grace of God," Nutter said.
He said his city has suffered a tragedy and called the derailment an unusual event.
"I don't believe that anyone sitting here, standing here today has any memory of a derailment of this kind in 50 years."
Nutter said the focus Wednesday was on the search for anyone who may still be on the train or anyone who may have been thrown from the train. He said crews will search every inch of every train to locate passengers.
The search area was expanded and police dogs were brought in to help locate passengers, Nutter said.
Emergency officials ask that anyone who was on board and who walked away safely to call Amtrak's hotline in order to verify that all passengers have been accounted for.
City officials would not say how many passengers remain unaccounted for.
Nutter said the train's engineer, not the conductor as previously stated, was injured, but survived. The engineer gave a statement to city police after he was treated.
However the Associated Press is reporting that the engineer refused to give a statement and left the police station with his lawyer.
Twenty-three people, including the eight critically injured passengers, remained at Temple University Hospital Wednesday. They are all expected to survive, says chief medical officer Dr. Herb Cushing.
Most of the injuries treated were rib fractures. Some patients also suffered collapsed, partially collapsed or bruised lungs as a result of the broken ribs, Cushing says.
Few patients suffered head injuries, which Cushing says surprised him. He was also amazed that more passengers were killed.
At least one of the injured passengers was 80 and several were in their early 20s. Passengers hailed from all over the world including Spain, Belgium, India and Albania, Cushing says.
Robert Sumwalt, of the National Transportation Safety Board, says that investigators are still looking to see whether anyone is in the cars, while they continue looking into why the train derailed. He said that the recorders, similar to the black boxes on jets, had been found and were being analyzed in Delaware. Nutter added that the train had a front-facing video camera, and footage would be analyzed as well.
Amtrak board member Robert Coscia said everyone at the rail company was "deeply saddened by the loss of life."
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.
Train 188 had departed from Washington, D.C., at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports the area where the derailment occurred, Frankford Junction, has a big curve and is near the site of a 1943 deadly train derailment. Seventy-nine people were killed.
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.