Two construction workers were killed when an Amtrak train traveling from New York to Savannah, Ga., Sunday struck a backhoe that was on the tracks about 15 miles south of Philadelphia, Delaware County officials said.
The crash, which occurred around 8 a.m., derailed the lead engine of Palmetto Train 89, according to a statement by Amtrak.
“Initial reports are that approximately 31 passengers are being transported to area hospitals, none with life-threatening injuries,” Amtrak said in a statement.
Reports from witnesses on the train indicate the Amtrak conductor blew the train’s horn, but construction workers were unable to clear the tracks in time.
Amtrak could not immediately confirm fatalities.
A passenger on the train described a fireball and windows on the train being blown out upon impact.
“The conductor did inform us that there was a fatality, that there were people working on the track,” Stephanie Burroughs told Fox News. Burroughs said she was told the death was someone who was “working on the tracks.”
She also said there were “some injuries” to passengers in the front car, but she had heard the worst injury was a broken arm.
Linton Holmes was towards the back of the train and described a “rumbling” and “a bunch of dust” when the derailment occurred.
“There were some people, they were pretty bloody, because it was like an explosion,” Holmes said at a news conference. “We got off track and there was an explosion and there was a big fire.”
Another passenger, Ari Ne’eman, told Fox News that despite the shock of the crash, passengers evacuated in an orderly manner.
“The evacuation was not panicked,” Ne’eman said. “The Amtrak personnel told everybody not to take their luggage during the evacuation.”
The derailed Amtrak train, which was carrying 341 passengers and 7 crew members, forced Amtrak to suspend service on the Northeast Corridor and SEPTA to suspend its Wilmington/Newark regional rail service. New Jersey Transit was not experiencing any delays due to the derailment, a spokesperson said.
Local emergency responders were on the scene and the crash was being investigated. Federal Railroad Administration officials had also arrived at the scene, said Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for the agency.
The crash comes nearly a year after the Amtrak Northeast Regional derailed on May 12 in Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200. That was the deadliest Amtrak crash since a 1987 derailment near Baltimore that killed 16.