Amtrak train derails near Philadelphia

  • Officials survey the site of a derailed Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pa., May 13, 2015. Rescue workers searched through the debris on Wednesday for more victims of an Amtrak passenger train wreck in Philadelphia that killed six people and injured scores others as investigators sought to determine the cause of the derailment. Authorities said they did not know what caused the New York City-bound train carrying 243 people to derail at about 9:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday. The accident left rail cars mangled, ripped open and strewn upside down in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood along the Delaware River. 
  • Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The scene of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, Pa., May 13, 2015.
  • Emergency personnel walk near the scene of a deadly train wreck, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel man a barricade near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed May 12, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pa.
  • At least five people died and 50 were injured when an Amtrak train bound for New York City derailed outside Philadelphia, Pa., May 12, 2015.
  • Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car after a train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel help a passenger at the scene of a train wreck on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. 
  • Emergency personnel help passengers at the scene of a train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • A passenger is carried following an Amtrak train derailment on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Emergency personnel transport a person at the scene of a train wreck, on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Passengers of an Amtrak train that derailed gather on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.

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Updated

A train ride for hundreds of commuters traveling on the country’s busiest rail corridor turned into a nightmare scenario on Tuesday evening after it derailed in Philadelphia, killing at least eight people and injuring at least 200 others.

The Amtrak Regional 188 traveling to New York City from Washington, D.C., had 238 passengers and five crew members on board. It derailed around 9:30 p.m. with rescue workers and investigators working into Wednesday morning. Officials told NBC News that all six cars and the engine had been derailed.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the accident an “absolute disastrous mess,” adding he had “never seen anything like this in my life.”

Witnesses described the chaotic scene —  how the cars fell to their side, how passengers were flung around in their compartments, with some having to be lifted by safety by hydraulic tools. Hundreds of firefighters and police rushed to crash site to help survivors and help free several who were trapped in the train cars. Authorities declared the incident as a level-3, mass casualty event.

“Chairs inside the train became unscrewed and suitcases were falling on people,” Max Helfman, 19, told NBC News. Helfman, who was heading home to New Jersey, added, “My mother flew into me and I literally had to catch her,” he said. “People were bleeding from their head. It was awful.”

Former Congressman Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania was also on board the train and tweeted chilling images of passengers being rescued by firefighters. “I’m on @Amtrak train that just crashed,” the Iraq war veteran tweeted. “Im ok. Helping others. Pray for those injured.”

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