PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A search team found an eighth body Thursday after a deadly Amtrak derailment linked to speeding.
Amtrak Train 188 was headed from Washington, D.C., to New York City, on Tuesday when it derailed at approximately 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.
Five of the 243 passengers on the train were Amtrak employees.
Investigators confirmed five deaths immediately at the crash site, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced another two fatalities Wednesday.
Nutter said one was pronounced dead at nearby Temple University Hospital, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the body of the seventh victim was “found in the wreckage.”
Dispatched to determine the cause of the derailment, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Wednesday that its “preliminary data” found that the train was traveling at about 106 mph, despite a speed limit of 50 mph for the curve the train was navigating when it crashed.
Amtrak has automated speed-control devices for many of its tracks on the busy Northeast Corridor where the crash occurred but no such system was in place along the derailment site.
“We feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said, as quoted by CNN.
Instead, all but two of the seven cars tipped over as the train allegedly sped around the curve, resulting in what the Philadelphia Inquirer reported to be the worst Northeast Corridor accident since a commuter train crashed into a freight train in Maryland in 1987, killing 16 people.
It has been reported that Associated Press employee Jim Gaines, of New Jersey, and 20-year-old U.S. Naval Academy student Justin Zemser of New York, were among passengers killed in the crash.
“We are heartbroken by what we’ve experienced here,” Nutter said in one of two Wednesday press conferences. “We have not experienced anything like this in modern times.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said. “We have train cars that are on their sides, ripped apart.”
Paul Cheung, a passenger who survived the crash, told AP reporters that “the front of the train looked all mangled, [like] piles of metal.”
Eight of the 144 injured in the derailment remain in critical condition, Philadelphia’s Fox affiliate reported. The majority of the injured were treated at Temple Hospital. Most of the injured were suffering from chest or rib fractures, with very few head injuries, a Temple doctor told reporters.
The body of the last unaccounted-for passenger, a Maryland man, was recovered Thursday, making eight total casualties.
Amtrak announced that there will be no Amtrak service Thursday between New York and Philadelphia, and that service between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston” is operating with fewer frequencies than normal.
The company expressed its sorrow for the injuries and loss of life, and pledged full cooperation with the NTSB investigation.
“Due to the investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment or speculate about any information that is being investigated,” a blog post from the company states.
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