|Dec. 20, 2017 -- At least three people were killed and more than 72 others were hospitalized, with 10 in serious condition as of Monday night, after a train derailed in the west U.S. state of Washington, the State Patrol said.
Amtrak 501, run by intercity rail operator, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (better known as Amtrak), derailed earlier on Monday on its first run on a new route in Pierce County in Washington state.
The train carrying 86 people was heading south from Seattle when 13 of its 14 cars jumped tracks near Tacoma, a city in Pierce on the West Coast, with some cars falling off a bridge and hitting vehicles below, the Washington Patrol said in a press release late Monday.
The route was opened after weeks of inspection and testing, the county sheriff's department said, adding that fallen train cars damaged five vehicles and two semi-trucks traveling on the highway below.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 (I-5) freeway were completely blocked by the train. The section will probably not be open until Dec. 19.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said earlier that a 20-member team has been sent to investigate the incident.
There is yet no official announcement as to what caused the deadly accident.
Local media said that the Amtrak train was supposed to slow dramatically before entering the curve where the derailment occurred.
The speed limit at the curve where the train crossed I-5 is 30 miles (45 km) per hour, while the speed limit on most of the track is 79 mph (about 126 km) per hour, State Transportation Department spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe told local media.
The Washington State Patrol said the Washington Department of Ecology is evaluating an approximately 350 gallon (about 1,400 liter) fuel spill that came from the power car.
Earlier Monday, President Donald Trump offered his "thoughts and prayers" for the victims of the accident.
Officials said the Amtrak railway route has recently undergone a retrofit program costing 181 million U.S. dollars in order to speed up passenger service that previously traveled away from the freeway and along the coast.
Founded in 1971 and headquartered in the Union Station in Washington, D.C., Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces with more than 300 trains running over 34,000 km daily.