Death toll rises to seven in Philadelphia train derailment

Rescue crews retrieve seventh body from wreckage of Philadelphia train derailment, authorities investigate cause of incident

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Death toll reached seven in Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on Wednesday as the rescue crews continue to search for bodies and survivors in the wreckage of the train.

The last body was retrieved from the wreckage on Wednesday around noon, Philadelphia Fire Department said.

Northeast Regional Train 188 was travelling from Washington, DC to New York City with its 238 passengers and five crew members when its seven cars went off rail track short after 9pm  ET on Tuesday in Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.

More than 200 injured people were being treated in the Philadelphia hospitals, as city’s Mayor Michael Nutter earlier said six of the injured were in critical condition.

Mayor Nutter said there are still some people unaccounted for as they are trying to match passenger manifests with the hospital records and urged anybody with information to speak to authorities.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) team arrived at the crash scene on Wednesday to investigate the cause of the derailment.

Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB said investigators recovered the train's black box data recorders, which contains information such as the speed, track signals and train’s operation, that is crucial for the experts to determine the reason of the incident.

Several reports, including Associated Press (AP) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ), claim the train was going faster than 160 kmh (100 mph) entering the curve when it crashed where the speed limit is 80 kmh (50 mph).

Philadelphia police officials said the engineer who operates the train declined to provide a statement to investigators and asked for a lawyer before speaking to law enforcement authorities about the derailment.

The AP said one of the deceased was a company employee named Jim Gaines (48) working as a video software architect.

US Naval Academy identified another victim as Justin Zemser (20) a midshipman from New York City.

Mayor Nutter and other authorities on the scene refused to identify any of the deceased.

After the crash, Amtrak temporarily suspended train services between Washington, DC and New York City, where the company carries three times more passengers than and all airlines combined.

TRTWorld and agencies