BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two people are dead after an Amtrak train derailed near Philadelphia Sunday morning.
Amtrak train 89 was traveling from New York City to Savannah, Georgia at about 8 a.m. when it struck a backhoe that was on the tracks in Chester, about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia. The impact derailed the lead engine of the train.
“Then it was on fire, then the windows bursted out and some people were cut up.,” said one traveler. “There was just a bunch of dust.”
The train was packed with 341 passengers and seven crew members at the time of the crash.
According to New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the crash claimed the life of a a backhoe operator and a supervisor. Both were Amtrak employees.
NTSB officials said more than 30 people were taken to the hospital.
The accident halted Amtrak service on it’s popular Northeast Corridor, forcing passengers to wait long hours especially at Baltimore’s Penn Station.
“We just heard it was an issue with the tracks, so everyone thought that maybe it was a tree down or a poll down,” said Vincent Choc.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ari Ne’eman of Silver Spring, Maryland says he was in the second car at the time of the crash. He spoke to the Associated Press.
“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.
He says passengers were evacuated 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,” Ne’eman 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.”
This accident comes almost a year after another Amtrak train jumped the tracks in Philadelphia killing eight people
“Anytime you hear like a loss of life, I think that kind of overrides any delay it may cause personal,” said Jason Panda.
NTSB could not speculate what may have caused the crash, but say an event data recorder recovered from the crash would indicate more.
Amtrak says trains will operating with residual delays between Philadelphia and Wilmington on Monday morning.
“Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other Amtrak services will be subject to some delays in the affected area between Philadelphia and Wilmington. Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg will also operate as scheduled,” said officials.
Passengers with travel plans can confirm their train’s status, change their plans or review refund information.