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US Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia, five killed

The BBC reports that a passenger train has derailed in Philadelphia, killing at least five people and injuring dozens of others, officials in the US city say.

Up to 10 carriages of the Washington-New York Amtrak service went off the track on Tuesday evening.

Emergency officials and fire-fighters are at the scene looking for passengers who may be trapped in the wreckage.

More than 240 people were on board Train 188, the officials say. It is not known what caused the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was dispatching a team of investigators to the crash site.

'Mangled up'

The train derailed in a suburb of Philadelphia, shortly after leaving the city's main station.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at least five people died.

Rescue workers at the crash scene. Photo: 12 May 2015
More than 240 people were on board the Washington-New York train, officials say
Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
One witness said the front of the train was 'a complete wreck'
A crime scene investigator checks inside one of the carriages. Photo: 12 May 2015
The train crashed close to the scene of one of the worst train crashes in US history
Police help an injured passenger. Photo: 12 May 2015
Dozens of people were taken to hospital, six in a critical condition
Passengers from Train 188. Photo: 12 May 2015
Some passengers managed to leave the train unassisted

"It is a devastating scene," he told reporters. "Never seen anything like this in my life."

"We walked the entire length of the train area. The engine [is] completely separated from the rest of the train and one of the cars is perpendicular to the rest of the cars. It's unbelievable."

Mr Nutter also said that, according to preliminary information, 243 people were on the train. Not all had been accounted for, he said.

A fire official was quoted as saying that more than 50 people were taken to hospital, six of them critically injured.

Media caption Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gives details of the derailment

Television pictures from the scene showed injured passengers being taken away on stretchers and fire-fighters using ladders to search for those trapped in wreckage.

Many others appeared to have minor injuries.

Patrick Murphy, a former US congressman, tweeted that he was on the train when it crashed.

"Im on @Amtrak train that just crashed. Im ok. Helping others. Pray for those injured," he wrote.

Associated Press employee Paul Cheung said he was fortunate to be at the back of the train and the front of it "looks pretty bad", the news agency reported.

Mr Cheung said he saw "some people mangled up".

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He said just before the crash the train "started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake".

"Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake.. You could see people's stuff flying over me."

Mr Cheung added that the front of the train was "a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal".

The crash took place close to the scene of one of the worst rail accidents in US history. In 1943, 79 people were killed when a train travelling from Washington to New York derailed.

Amtrak is a national publicly funded rail service, serving tens of millions of people every year.

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