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Multiple fatalities after Amtrak train derails in Washington state

An Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle on Monday morning, causing “multiple fatalities,” officials say.

At least 3 fatalities were confirmed at the crash site, the Washington State Patrol reported Monday night.

Seventy-two people were evaluated and transported for treatment, the patrol said in an evening update. Ten patients were in serious condition, four had moderate injuries, and 9 had minor injuries, according to the update.

A Washington state Department of Transportation spokesperson said the last recorded speed of the train was 81.1 miles per hour. The train, which officials said carried 86 passengers at the time of the crash, was making the inaugural trip on a new, high-speed route from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. It crashed around 7:31 a.m. local time.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is launching an investigation into the derailment, the agency said in a tweet. Officials said in a news conference Monday afternoon that no criminal investigation is underway at this time.

Images and video shared on social media show the derailed train dangling over an overpass on Interstate 5 near Olympia, Washington, approximately 50 miles southwest of Seattle. Interstate 5 is closed, with traffic backed up miles in both directions, The Seattle Times reported.

Amtrak train #501 was supposed to usher in a new era of high-speed service along the “Cascades” corridor from Seattle to Portland, part of a plan to decrease travel time and improve reliability, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The nearly $800 million project began in 2010, and in all involved 200 separate projects from building a new station, to upgrading the trains themselves.

The derailed train is one of the eight newly purchased trains for the Amtrak Cascades corridor. A press release from the Washington State DOT about the trains outlined a number of improved safety features in the fleet, including an “on-board positive train control system” that would automatically stop the train if the system sensed something dangerous on the tracks. However, it noted the system would not be active along the corridor until 2018. Officials have not commented on whether this played a role in Monday’s crash.

MultiCare health, a local hospital network, tweeted that five area hospitals were expecting more than 40 patients after Monday’s derailment.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Pierce and Thurston counties, saying “today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency.”

“Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured,” he said on Twitter.

President Donald Trump opened his national security speech Monday by giving “our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt prayers for the victims of the train derailment in Washington State.” Earlier, he tweeted that the accident “shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!”

PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops. This story has been updated with the latest passenger count.

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