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An ugly Philadelphia derailment is Amtrak’s second fatal accident in less than a week

Reuters/Charles Mostoller
Rescue workers survey the wreckage.
  • Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

An Amtrak train headed from Washington, D.C., to New York has crashed, killing at least five people and injuring dozens after it left the tracks in the Port Richmond area of Philadelphia as it rounded a turn.

“It is an absolute disastrous mess. Never seen anything like this in my life,” Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said at a press conference.

Passengers on board reported smoke and chaos after several train cars overturned. This former US congressman posted a photo on Twitter:

Emergency medical teams were quickly on the scene:

Sadly, Amtrak and other US train derailments are far too common. Unlike tonight’s incident, they often involve collisions with vehicles or other obstructions on the tracks. Trucks get in accidents at highway-rail crossings about 10 times a week in the U.S., according to federal regulators.

The derailment follows a collision that took place on Sunday, when an Amtrak train hit a flatbed truck at a crossing in Amite, Louisiana, killing the truck’s driver and two people on the train.

In April, an Amtrak train derailed near Portland, Maine (nobody was injured), and in March, another Amtrak train collided with a particularly large tractor-trailer in North Carolina. (Amtrak filed a lawsuit against the trucking company.)

In June 2014, an Amtrak train hit a vehicle in Massachusetts, killing three people in the vehicle and derailing the train. Nobody on the train was injured. Also that month, another Amtrak train hit a wood chipper being towed across the tracks in Connecticut, injuring five people.

The accident in North Carolina prompted federal regulators to make a simple suggestion: that truck drivers call train dispatchers to alert them of a potentially dangerous crossing. But rail and trucking associations have rejected the idea.

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