2 Die as Amtrak Train Strikes Backhoe, Engine Derails - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

2 Die as Amtrak Train Strikes Backhoe, Engine Derails

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An Amtrak train struck a piece of construction equipment along the busy Northeast Corridor Sunday morning, leaving two Amtrak employees dead and causing the lead engine to derail.

Shortly after 8 a.m., passengers on Amtrak's Palmetto Train 89 felt a jolt as the train struck a backhoe on the tracks between Booth Street and Highland Avenue in Chester, Pennsylvania -- not far from the Highland Avenue Station, officials said.

Two Amtrak employees with more than 40 years of service between them died and at least one person was injured, said investigators.

The train, which was headed from New York to Savannah, Georgia, had 341 passengers and seven crew members on board at the time, Amtrak said.

Passengers told NBC10's Monique Braxton they heard a bang, felt a jolt and then saw a plume of smoke. The force of the wreck caused the train engine to derail, Amtrak said.

Responding crews assessed people on the train for injuries as initial reports had injuries on board the train, said Amtrak. People with concerns about people on the train could call 1-800-523-9101 for information.

Nearby Trainer United Methodist Church at W 9th and Langley streets served as a staging scene. Emergency crews could be seen loading people on to waiting vehicles to take them away from the scene to be checked out at local hospitals.

SEPTA suspended trains along the Wilmington-Newark Line until further notice and Amtrak suspended all trains between New York City and Philadelphia.

NJ Transit said it would accept Amtrak tickets for travelers going between New York and Trenton during the suspension.

Unharmed passengers told NBC10 that Amtrak was helping getting them set up with rental cars so they could continue on their journey south.

No word yet on when the tracks could reopen.

It wasn't immediately clear why the backhoe was on the tracks. Federal Railroad Administration investigators joined local and Amtrak investigators in the search for clues Sunday.

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