An Amtrak train struck a piece of construction equipment just south of Philadelphia on Sunday causing a derailment, and some injuries are being reported, according to authorities. Service on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Philadelphia has been suspended. The fire commissioner said the derailment killed two people.
Train 89 was heading from New York to Savannah, Georgie, when it hit a backhoe that was on the track in Chester, about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia, officials said. The crash happened shortly after 8 am.
The impact derailed the lead engine of the train. About 341 passengers and seven crew members were on board.
Local emergency responders were on the scene and the crash is being investigated. Federal Railroad Administration officials had arrived at the scene, said Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for the agency.
Ari Ne’eman, a disability rights activist heading to Washington after speaking at an event in New York, said he was in the second car at the time of the crash. “The car started shaking wildly, there was a smell of smoke, it looked like there was a small fire and then the window across from us blew out,” said Ne’eman, 28, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Some of the passengers started to get off after the train stopped, but the conductor quickly stopped them. Officials started evacuateing people to the rear of the train and then off and to a local church. “It was a very frightening experience. I’m frankly very glad that I was not on the first car,” where there were injuries, he said.
“The moment that the car stopped, I said Shema, a Jewish prayer … I was just so thankful that the train had come to a stop and we were OK.”
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