An Amtrak train bound for New York City derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, leaving at least six people dead and more than a hundred injured, officials said.
The train appeared to go off the tracks while going into a turn about 9:30 p.m., according to the Associated Press, one of whose own staff members happened to be on board.
“The front of the train is really mangled,” AP employee Paul Cheung said. “It’s a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal.”
Images and videos posted to social media showed passengers struggling to crawl out of train cars that had flipped onto their sides. “There was dust and debris, I was choking,” Patrick Murphy, a former congressman who was on the train, said on MSNBC early Wednesday morning.
The train, the Northeast Regional 188, had departed from Washington, D.C., earlier that day.
Officials initially said 140 of the 243 people on board the train had been taken to local hospitals, with six people in critical condition. As of early Wednesday morning, there were at least eight patients in critical condition at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, one of the facilities treating victims of the crash, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Hundreds of first responders rushed to the scene following the crash, including police, fire and rail officials. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was due to arrive Wednesday morning to investigate the crash, and the Federal Railroad Administration said at least eight of its investigators would be dispatched to the scene.
“It is an absolute disastrous mess, never seen anything like this in my life,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, adding that all seven train cars were in “various stages of disarray.
“We walked the entire length of the train area, and the engine completely separated from the rest of the train, and one of the cars is perpendicular to the rest of the cars. It’s unbelievable,” he added.
Other passengers on the train included Jannelle Richards, a producer for NBC Nightly News, and Murphy, who tweeted photos of firefighters helping people escape a lopsided train carriage.
Richards said she heard a loud crash and saw people fly up in the air, followed by “jerking back and forth” and “a lot of smoke.” She also saw several passengers bleeding.
Amtrak announced earlier that it has canceled all train service between New York City and Philadelphia for the rest of the evening, and the incident will likely impact service in heavily trafficked Northeastern corridor for much longer. More than 11 million people traveled along that corridor, which runs between Washington and Boston, in 2014.
“There’s no circumstance under which there would be any Amtrak service this week through Philadelphia,” Nutter said.