DUPONT, Wash. — Washington lawmakers have expressed their heartfelt condolences after a deadly train derailment in Pierce County.
"Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need."
At least 6 people were killed Monday morning when an Amtrak train derailed south of Tacoma, leaving rail cars dangling above Interstate 5. Nearly 80 others were taken to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston Counties — at least four of them with severe injuries.
Several passengers aboard the train included transportation officials, set to embark on Amtrak's new route #501 from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon. It was the first day of service, according to Amtrak.
All southbound lanes of I-5 were closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and motorists were being warned to avoid the area.
Other Washington state politicians said they were heartbroken to hear the news.
“Following the derailment near Olympia closely," said Sen. Maria Cantwell. "Praying for everyone on board and affected by this. Thanks to our first responders."
“Heartbroken by the news coming out of WA right now," tweeted Sen. Patty Murray. "As my staff works to get more info, my thoughts are w/ everyone affected, including the 1st responders doing their best to keep people safe."
President Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.
The USDOT Federal Railroad Administration said it was working with Amtrak and WSDOT, and that the agency had investigators headed to the scene.
The Amtrak train was making its first run as part of a higher speed service that local authorities had warned could be dangerous.
Transitdocs.com, a website that maps Amtrak train locations and speeds using data from the railroad's train tracker app, says the train was going 81.1 mph moments before the derailment Monday.
The state Department of Transportation posted information about the $180.7 million project online that says the maximum speed along that stretch of track is 79 mph.
The new route was designed to speed up service by removing passenger trains from a route along Puget Sound that's bogged down by curves, single-track tunnels, and freight traffic.