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News Wrap: Washington state train derailment causes multiple deaths, injuries

In our news wrap Monday, at least six people were killed and a dozen injured in a train derailment near the town of Dupont, Washington. Also, Atlanta's airport, the world's busiest, worked to get back up to speed after a power outage on Sunday, which stranded thousands of passengers.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The wreckage of an Amtrak train lies strewn around an overpass in Washington state tonight.

    It derailed this morning with 84 people on board. At least six were killed and dozens were hurt. The southbound train went off the rails near the town of DuPont and shut down part of Interstate 5.

    Near the scene is Austin Jenkins of radio station KUOW and the Northwest News Network, a collaboration of NPR stations. I spoke to him just a short while ago.

    Austin Jenkins, thank you for talking with us.

    What do you know so far about the extent of the casualties?

  • Austin Jenkins:

    We know there are multiple deaths. We do not have a confirmed number. We know there are multiple injuries.

    This was a passenger train with 12 cars. It wasn’t packed full. In fact, it was fairly light in terms of passengers, but we know that most if not all of those train cars derailed. At least one of them fell to the freeway below. Another train car or two are hanging from this bridge over the interstate. This is a major disaster and a major scene with all of these rail cars off the track.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How is the operation, the rescue operation going? Are they still hoping to find people alive?

  • Austin Jenkins:

    My sense is that they have rescued everybody who survived this and either took them to local hospitals, or if they were not injured or ambulatory, then they put them on buses, and those individuals, those passengers have now reunited with their families.

    At this point, it looks like this is a recovery mission and it’s also the beginnings of an extensive investigation into what went wrong.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Austin Jenkins, this was a new route, we have been reporting. So it truly had not been used for commuters before.

  • Austin Jenkins:

    That’s right, and it’s a very new stretch of track, a straight stretch where the train might have been going upwards of 70 miles an hour, and then it comes to a bend in the track and comes across this bridge over Interstate 5. And that’s where this derailment happened.

    But what led to that derailment, we still don’t know. There has been some speculations, but nothing specific or confirmed at this point.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     We can assume people in both Washington state and Oregon are going to be affected by this.

  • Austin Jenkins:

    Absolutely.

    And Interstate 5 is the major north-south thoroughfare through Washington state and up down the West Coast. Right now, the southbound lanes of Intestate 5 through this area absolutely shut down for the foreseeable future.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Austin Jenkins with the Northwest News Network, thank you.

  • Austin Jenkins:

    You’re welcome.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, worked today to get back up to speed after a power outage Sunday. More than 1,400 flights were canceled through today, mostly by Delta. Georgia Power Company says an underground electrical fire triggered the 11-hour outage. Thousands of passengers were stranded.

  • James Beatty:

    There was no real method for evacuation. I mean, there was 40 or 50 people per terminal area that we were in that were confined to wheelchairs, and there was no plan at all to get them out of here without any power. The escalators didn’t work, no elevators. We were literally carrying people down the escalators.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Delta said this afternoon that it expects to be back to nearly a normal schedule by tomorrow.

    Fire crews in Southern California worked today to take advantage of lighter winds to contain more of the massive Thomas Fire. More than 8,000 firefighters have lines around 45 percent of the fire. But it’s still threatening thousands of homes in Santa Barbara County, and forecasters expect gusty winds to return Wednesday evening.

    One of President Trump’s judicial nominees withdrew today, after he was ridiculed for failing to answer basic legal questions. Matthew Petersen is a lawyer and a member of the Federal Election Commission, but has never tried a case. In a letter to the president, he said his nomination had become a distraction to the administration.

    A federal appellate judge accused of sexual harassment is resigning. Judge Alex Kozinski sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. At least 15 women have accused him of misconduct.

    Meanwhile, the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, says he’s selling the football team. He faces allegations of sexual harassment and racist language.

    Meanwhile, Tavis Smiley says that PBS made a — quote — “big mistake” in suspending him from his talk show over sexual misconduct accusations. The network has said that an independent investigation found multiple credible allegations. Smiley said today that he’s been found guilty simply by accusation.

  • Tavis Smiley:

    I have never groped. I have never coerced. I have never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone. In 30 years over six different networks, there’s never been any allegation of that. I celebrate and applaud these women who’ve had the courage to come out and to tell their truth, and lead us in a conversation about how to create healthy workspaces.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    PBS responded that Smiley has changed his story, and it said — quote — “Additional allegations are continuing to come to light.”

    Military investigators have determined that U.S. Army Sergeant La David T. Johnson died fighting during an ambush in Niger. There had been suggestions that he was captured and executed by Islamic State militants who attacked his Special Forces unit in October. The Associated Press reports that investigators found Johnson was shot as many as 18 times as he fought to the death.

    The United States today vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that demanded President Trump rescind recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 14 other members of the U.N. Security Council voted for the resolution.

    But U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley rejected the move. She called it an insult that won’t be forgotten.

  • Nikki Haley:

    It’s one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the United States was forced to defend its sovereignty. The record will reflect that we did so proudly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Afterward, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he will no longer accept the U.S. as a moderator of Middle East peace efforts.

    In South Africa, the ruling party, the African National Congress, elected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader today. He will be the party’s choice in the 2019 elections to succeed President Jacob Zuma, who’s been plagued by corruption scandals.

    Back in this country, Twitter says it’s suspending the accounts of several white nationalist groups. They include the far-right Britain First and two of its leaders. One of them posted anti-Muslim videos that President Trump retweeted last month. Twitter’s action is part of its new rules aimed at abusive content.

    The president of ESPN resigned today, citing substance abuse. John Skipper said in a statement that he had struggled for many years with the problem, and that he needs now to focus on treatment. He gave no other details.

    And on Wall Street, stocks rose again on prospects of a Republican tax cut plan passing this week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 140 points to close above 24,790. The Nasdaq rose 58 points, and the S&P 500 added 14.

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