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Two Amtrak employees killed and more than 30 passengers injured in train accident

Two people died and dozen others were injured in an Amtrak train accident that happened between New York and Philadelphia  in the NorthEast Corridor yesterday morning. Train 89, also known as the Palmetto, struck a backhoe, killing the operator of the backhoe and an Amtrak supervisor.  The train had left New York for Savanah, GA around 6:00 am and was near Philadelphia when the accident happened.  None of the passengers died but more than 30 of them were transported to the hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived yesterday at the site of the accident. They started to investigate the reasons why a maintenance crew was working on an active track. In a statement New York Senator Chuck Schumer indicated that it was highly possible that human error was the cause of the accident. He said that the Amtrak’s chairman, Mr Anthony Cosica told him that Amtrak employees have to follow a rigorous 20 step procedure to obtain clearance to place equipment on the track. Schumer added that a possible breakdown in communications between the train dispatchers and the maintenance crew may have been at the origin of the crash.

341 passengers and 7 crew members were aboard the train at the time of the crash. The impact was so strong that the train derailed and the front cars were smashed. The passengers in the front cars were thrown on the floor. Windows got blown out and debris flew around injuring people on board.  Passengers said they heard an explosion like noise then smoke started to fill up the front cars.

The accident questioned again the safety of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Last year 8 passengers died and more than 200 were injured after a New York bound Amtrak train derailed next to Philadelphia. The crash was the deadliest in the Northeast corridor in more than 25 years. Investigations concluded that speeding caused the accident.

Read more in the New York Times