Fatalities reported after Amtrak train derails, blocks stretch of Interstate 5 in Washington state

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
December 19, 2017, 2:24:59 PM EST

An Amtrak train derailed and fell off the tracks, blocking a busy stretch of Interstate 5 in Washington state south of Tacoma early Monday morning.

The Washington Department of Transportation confirmed the incident shortly before 8 a.m. PST Monday, while stating that all southbound lanes of I-5 were blocked near Mounts Road in Pierce County. This portion of I-5 is expected to remain closed for the Tuesday morning commute.

Motorists are being told to avoid the area due to the closure. This stretch of I-5 sees more than 60,000 vehicles per day, officials said.

"Amtrak Cascades Train 501, operating from Seattle and Portland, derailed south of Tacoma, Washington," Amtrak said in a statement. "There were approximately 78 passengers and five crew members on board. Initial reports are that some injuries are reported to passengers and crew, and taken to local medical facilities for treatment."

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said multiple injuries and three casualties have been reported. Additionally, multiple motorists were injured when the derailed train cars struck vehicles on I-5. No motorist fatalities have been reported.

washington state patrol amtrak

(Photo/Washington State Patrol)

The train was traveling 50 mph over the speed limit at the time of the crash, Associated Press reported. The train was running its inaugural trip along a new route recently implemented to speed up service by removing passenger trains from a route along Puget Sound that deals with heavy traffic.

"Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need."

President Donald Trump also expressed his sympathy to the victims on Twitter.

Conditions at nearby Tacoma Narrows Airport were dry around 8 a.m. local time, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Spamer.

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Wind gusts up to 20 mph have been reported in the area, Spamer added.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it is sending investigators to the scene of the accident.

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