LACEY, Wash. - Officials have confirmed at least 3 people are dead and 14 were taken to area hospitals after a high-speed Amtrak train derailed in Washington state.
Initial reports said 70 people were taken to the hospital. During a briefing Monday evening, officials now said it was 14.
The train car derailed onto Interstate 5 near Mounts Road in Pierce County. Officials say there were 80 people and five crew members on board the train at the time.
A hotline has been established for those hoping to get more information about their loved ones. The number is 800-523-9101.
WSB-TV's sister station in Seattle, KIRO-7, reports first responders are treating this as a mass casualty incident. In a news briefing with officials, we learned they are still unsure it anyone is still onboard.
We're working with our sister station in Seattle, KIRO-7, to gather the latest on this developing story. Stay with WSBTV.com and Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11 for updates.
Washington State DOT said it is working with a number of local emergency responders to asses the situation and render assistance. The Bloodworks community blood bank has issued more than 150 units of blood in response to the incident and is asking residents in the area to donate.
WSP diverting traffic at DuPont. WSP aiding withbroad closure & getting assistance to scene. pic.twitter.com/fRw4uGNIVv— Trooper Brooke Bova (@wspd1pio) December 18, 2017
PRELIMINARY INFO - Derailed Amtrak passenger train was heading south bound. Injuries and casualties reported, numbers to come. Media staging area at Eagles Pride Golf Course. #PCSD PIO Troyer enroute, will not answer his cell while driving priority.— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) December 18, 2017
The sheriff's office says several cars driving on the interstate when the train derailed were hit by the train cars. Multiple injuries were reported from people on the interstate.
Several cars on I5 struck by derailed Amtrak train cars. Multiple motorists injured on roadway, no fatalities of motorists reported.— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) December 18, 2017
Drivers jumped in to help
Daniel Konzelman, 24, was driving parallel to the train on his way to work as an accountant in Olympia. He was about 30 seconds ahead of the train on the freeway when he saw it derail.
Konzelman, who was driving with a friend, said he pulled off the freeway and then ran down along the tracks and over the bridge to get to the scene. They saw three cars and a semi-truck on the freeway that had been damaged by the derailment. There were train cars with their roofs ripped off, or that were tipped upside down, on both sides of the track or turned sideways on the bridge.
They climbed into train cars and found people hurt — some pinned underneath the train, others who appeared to be dead, he said. If they were mobile and seemed stable, he helped them climb out. If they appeared seriously hurt, he tried to comfort them by talking to them.
“I just wanted to help people because I would want people to help me,” he said. “I’m an Eagle Scout. I have a lot of first-aid training and emergency response training.”
They stayed for nearly two hours before hitting the road again.
“I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. I saw a little bit of both,” he said.
Train was on inaugural run
The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the derailment. This is the second Amtrak derailment this year in Pierce County.
The train was making the inaugural run on the new route as part of a $180.7 million project designed to speed up service by removing passenger trains from a route along Puget Sound that’s bogged down by curves, single-track tunnels and freight traffic.
The Amtrak schedule called for the train to leave Seattle around 6 a.m. and arrive in Portland about 3 1/2 hours later.
The new route includes a bypass built on an existing inland rail line that runs along Interstate 5 from Tacoma to DuPont, near where Train 501 derailed. Track testing was completed in January and February in advance of Monday’s launch, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Photos from scene of amtrak passenger train derailment pic.twitter.com/gd09MzLCC6— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) December 18, 2017
Amtrak sent the following to KIRO 7 News:
"Amtrak is aware of an incident with Train 501, Cascades service from Seattle to Portland. Emergency services are on the scene and Amtrak management is responding."
Anyone with questions about friends and family on derailed train should call 901-523-9101.
The location is about 40 miles south of Seattle.
Officials express condolences
The Governor of Washington released a statement on Twitter Monday morning.
Thank you to the first repsonders on the scene. We're praying for everyone on board the train, and ask everyone to hold them in your thoughts. https://t.co/Zh3qJsFXVv— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) December 18, 2017
Mayor Jenny Durkan also released a statement:
"This catastrophic derailment is horrific. My thoughts are with the passengers, families and those injured as well as our first responders, firefighters and police who rushed to the scene. The City of Seattle has offered our assistance and aid to Pierce and Thurston counties, and is ready to work with Amtrak, local, state, and federal officials as they manage the response and deal with the aftermath of this tragic incident."
President Trump also tweeted about the derailment.
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
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident in DuPont, Washington. Thank you to all of our wonderful First Responders who are on the scene. We are currently monitoring here at the White House.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017
All SB lanes of I-5 blocked near Mounts Road in Pierce County due to derailed train car. Avoid area! pic.twitter.com/SBH7dCc6yg— WSDOT Tacoma Traffic (@wsdot_tacoma) December 18, 2017
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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