Rescue personnel and equipment are seen at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over interstate highway I-5 in DuPont, Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
WASHINGTON - 19 December 2017: Workers were trying to clear the wreckage of an Amtrak train on Tuesday after it veered off a bridge over a major highway in Washington state while traveling at more than twice the speed limit during its first run on a new route.
At least three people aboard the train were killed in the Monday morning derailment in the city of DuPont, in which all 12 carriages and one of its two locomotives tumbled off the rails, officials said. Another 100 people were taken to hospitals, 10 with serious injuries.
Workers used at least one towering crane in wet, windy weather as they sought to reopen the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, a major West Coast highway stretching from the Canadian border to Mexico.
The stretch of highway was expected to be closed for at least the rest of Tuesday, the state transportation department said.
The train was traveling on a new, slightly quicker route between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, with 86 people aboard, 80 of them passengers, Amtrak said.
At least a few of those aboard the train were rail aficionados excited for the first trip along the new route. Among them were Zack Willhoite, who was killed in the crash, according to Chris Karnes, chairman of the Pierce Transit advisory board, where Willhoite was an employee.
The train was speeding at 80 miles (129 km) per hour on a curved stretch of track where the speed limit was 30 mph (48 kph), according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The board was investigating whether other factors besides speed were involved.
The derailment placed Amtrak, the country's main passenger rail company, under renewed scrutiny following a series of fatal incidents.
The stretch of track where the derailment happened had previously been used by slow-moving freight trains but was recently upgraded to handle passenger trains as part of a $181 million project to cut travel time between Tacoma and Olympia.
Washington state's transportation department said the track underwent "weeks of inspection and testing" before the new route was inaugurated on Monday.