Death toll climbs to 7 in Philadelphia train crash

May 13, 2015 1:02 PM by NBC News


Police have confirmed a seventh death.
Two of the dead, a Navy midshipman and a software architect, have been identified.
Philadelphia's mayor will update reporters at 2:15 p.m. ET.

Police raised the death toll to seven on Wednesday in the crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia, and authorities said they still had not accounted for everyone on board. Investigators mined the train's data recorder for clues.

Hospitals treated more than 200 patients, said Sam Phillips, the city's emergency management chief. Amtrak asked even people who were uninjured to call in as authorities tried to match the passenger list with hospital accounts.

The seven dead included four bodies found inside the train, two found outside and one who died at a hospital, police Lt. John Walker told NBC Philadelphia.

Two of the victims were identified - a Navy midshipman who was on leave and going home to New York and an Associated Press video software architect.

Amtrak Regional 188 derailed about 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, on its way from Washington to New York. All seven cars were damaged, including some that were overturned and one that was mangled.

Passengers and luggage were tossed around inside the cars, and survivors described having to force doors open or clamber through windows to safety.

"We have not experienced anything like this in modern times," Mayor Michael Nutter said.

The black box was being analyzed at an Amtrak facility in Delaware, he said. Robert Sumwalt, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators would look at a range of factors, including track conditions, signals, mechanics and human performance.

The NTSB and the FBI said earlier that the early indications pointed to an accident.

The conductor of the train was injured in the crash and is speaking to police, Nutter said. At least 56 people were still being treated in Philadelphia hospitals on Wednesday. Injuries ranged from cuts and broken bones to head trauma.

ApprenNet, a Philadelphia job-placement company, said its CEO, Rachel Jacobs, was among the missing. There was no immediate word on the identities of any of the dead.

READ MORE: Full coverage from NBC 10 Philadelphia

Two sources told NBC News that the train went off the track where a 70 mph stretch goes into a 50 mph curve, but they cautioned it is too early to know whether the curve or speed were factors.

The train carried 238 passengers and five crew, meaning it would have been roughly half full. Amtrak suspended service between New York and Philadelphia on its Northeast Corridor, the busiest stretch of track in the country for passenger travel.

Passengers described a sudden shake, then a harrowing scene.

"Chairs inside the train became unscrewed and suitcases were falling on people," said Max Helfman, 19, who was returning home to New Jersey when the train car he was in flipped over.

"My mother flew into me and I literally had to catch her," he said. "People were bleeding from their head. It was awful."

Cranes capable of lifting 220,000 pounds were on scene Wednesday to right the cars.

President Barack Obama said that he and first lady Michelle Obama were deeply saddened: "Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many. From Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all."

Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania ordered flags across the state to half-staff.


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