Damage control underway in wake of Amtrak 188 crash; SEPTA Trenton line closed


Read: “Impact: The horrific moment when Amtrak 188 flew off the rails” for a detailed story of what happened to passengers when the the train derailed around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

1:08 p.m.: Drexel professor discusses possible causes for crash; international travelers among victims

Dr. Joseph Martin, Drexel University Civil Engineering professor,said that the tracks where the accident occurred are among the busiest in the country, with tens of thousands of trains passing over them each year.

He said there are a number of possible reasons for the crash. High speed, a piece falling off of the train, and an impact with something on the track all are possibilities.He also wondered whether maintenance on the track was delayed because of heavy use.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be going over train and track maintenance records with a close eye.

“I think the longer it takes for the NTSB to compile it’s report, the greater the likelihood that the cause is a problem with the train, because the records for the track are easy,” Martin said.

RELATED: Investigators review data from fatal Philadelphia train wreck

“This is so big. Five people died, and it’s in a big city. All of that says to the NTSB that you have to use a fine, fine, fine toothed comb. You have to get this right.” (Thenumber of fatalities was increased to seven after the interview.)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that investigators are focusing on excessive speed as a factor in the crash. The Journal’s sources said the train was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour as it approached a sharp curve in a 50 mile-per-hour speed limit zone.

-Friends are actively seeking information about passenger Rachel Jacobs, the CEO of Philly tech company ApprenNet, who texted her husband that she was on the train but has not been seen since.

-The victims included many international travelers.

At 30th street station Tuesday morning, about 5 dozen passengers were receiving help from the Red Cross after they left area hospitals. They straggled in a few at a time as they were released from hospitals.
One woman’s feet were stained with the sooty black dust of railroad tracks. She spoke only French, but was hustled off before media could find a translator.
One man could be seen with his arm in a sling. A woman with him had a brown stain of dried blood on her shirt. They both declined to speak to reporters.
Los Garcia, a Red Cross worker who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, said she helped one Chilean couple and a Brazilian family of four.
“Most of the survivors have a very somber look on their face,” she said, before trailing off. “It’s very…”

12:26 p.m.:

The death toll in this Amtrak 188 derailment has now risen to seven.

The Associated Press is reporting that one of their staff members is among the deceased.

Jim Gaines, 48, a father of two, a video software architect for the AP, died while traveling to his home in Plainsboro, New Jersey, the AP reported.

The New York Daily News reported that the U.S. Naval Academy midshipman who died in the crash was 20-year-old Justin Zemser.

Zemser’s mother confirmed her son had died, the Daily News said.

Meanwhile, the accident scene is at this time completely closed off to media and the public.

A large crane was sighted moving toward the crash scene as part of recovery efforts, possibly for lifting the derailed train.

No new information regarding casualties or the cause of the crash has been released.

RELATED: The horrific moment when Amtrak 188 flew off the rails

The crash occurred on tracks that run through the residential neighborhoods of Port Richmond and Kensington.

Ryan Krause, 21, of Kensington said he approached the scene after the crash.

He said he then left and went to a nearby supermarket to buy two cases of water.

“I told them what it was for and they didn’t even charge me for it,” Krause said. He gave the water out at an area where some passengers were walking away, until police moved him back.

11:35 a.m.:

One of the dead in the Amtrak crash Tuesday evening was a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman traveling for leave, the Academy said.

The midshipman will not be identified until 24 hours after family notification.

“The Naval Academy is deeply saddened to report that a midshipman was named as one of the passengers who lost their life in the AMTRAK train which crashed in north Philadelphia at approximately 9:30 p.m. last night,” the Academy said in a statement. ” The midshipman was on leave and enroute to their home of record when the accident occurred.”

“The Brigade of Midshipman, staff and faculty were notified of the midshipman’s death this morning,” the statement continued. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy , the identity of the midshipman is being withheld for 24 hours after next of kin notification.”

10:33 a.m.:

Officials said at a press conference at the derailment site that they were investigating the crash but had not come to any conclusion regarding the cause of the crash.

We will get to the bottom of what happened, why it happened, but that will take some time,” Mayor Michael Nutter said.

RELATED: Damage control underway in wake of amtrak 188 crash


National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt said investigators from NTSB arrived around 4 a.m. and would investigate train signals, track conditions, as well as onboard “event recorders” and front-facing video cameras on the train as they attempt to determine the cause of the crash.

“It’s a devastating scene,” Sumwalt said.

Investigators are still assisting victims of the crash and searching through the Amtrak rail cars for more passengers who may be inside the cars, Sumwalt said.

Nutter acknowledged that not all passengers on the train were yet accounted for because they were still matching up the Amtrak list with hospital records and said it would be a “tedious” process that would take time.

Some passengers may have not boarded the train, Nutter said, while others may be receiving medical care and unable to identify themselves.

Amtrak is urging loved ones of passengers unaccounted for, as well as people who had tickets but did not board the train, to call their emergency hotline at 1-800-523-9101.

9:40 a.m.:

Commuter updates

SEPTA has suspended service on the Regional Rail Trenton line until further notice due to the Amtrak derailment.

Extra service is being added to West Trenton to accommodate for extra passengers.

Bus routes 5 and 89 are detoured around the scene of the derailment.

Amtrak service is suspended between Philadelphia and New York.

Amtrak tickets between Trenton and New York City are being honored by New Jersey Transit.

Ongoing recovery

In the wake of the Amtrak 188 derailment in Port Richmond around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, damage control is still underway.

Passengersare currently trickling through 30th Street Station.

Red Cross spokesman Anthony Tornetta says they’ve helped about 75 people from Amtrak 188 get to their destination.

Victims are taking cabs, being picked up by family and there are also buses leaving for NYC.

As the train was from D.C. bound for New York City, crash victims are from across the world.

Spokespeople say they are using a language line for translation.

City officials are expected to hold a press conference at the site of the crash at 11 a.m.

At this time six fatalities and 140 injuries are reported in the derailment of the Amtrak train carrying 243 people, including five Amtrak employees.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Dan Kelley

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