An Amtrak train on its inaugural run derailed south of Seattle on Monday, causing multiple deaths and injuries as rail cars plunged off a bridge over a traffic-clogged interstate, authorities said.
Several vehicles on I-5 were struck by derailed train cars tumbling down from the tracks above, Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer said.
"We have multiple fatals on the train, no fatals on the roadway," Troyer said. He said the number of fatalities had not been determined.
Interstate 5 southbound near Dupont, about 50 miles south of Seattle, was closed after the derailment "and will be for some time," Troyer said. He said the derailment took place at about 7:40 a.m. local time. The train had left Portland at 6 a.m., bound for Seattle.
Dozens of first-responders swarmed the scene, and injured people could be seen limping or being carried from the crash site. Some people who apparently exited the train could be seen standing, wrapped in blankets, under temporary tents.
Gov. Jay Inslee urged commuters to avoid the area during the "ongoing and serious situation." The National Transportation Safety Board said it was "gathering information" about the accident.
"We are aware of an incident involving Amtrak train 501," Amtrak said in a statement. "We will update with additional details as they become available."
Amtrak said service south of Seattle was suspended. Service from Seattle to points north and east continued to operate.
Amtrak Cascades trains connect 18 cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Ore.
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