Photos from the scene show at least one train car on the road, with another dangling over it
The deaths “are all contained to the train,” said Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “It’s pretty horrific.”
Troyer said there were “multiple fatalities” but couldn’t provide a precise number.
Several motorists in vehicles that were struck by the fallen train cars suffered injuries, but there were no fatalities among people in those vehicles, the sheriff’s office said.
At least 77 people were taken to hospitals, authorities said.
An Amtrak spokesperson said there were about 78 passengers and five crew members on board when the accident took place.
Emergency radio transmissions between the train and the dispatcher were frantic and dramatic:
Dispatcher: Hey guys, what happened?
AMTRAK 501: Uh, we were coming around the corner to take the bridge over I-5 there, right north into Nisqually and we went on the ground.
Dispatcher: …Is everybody OK?
AMTRAK 501: I’m still figuring that out. We got cars everywhere and down onto the highway.
About 77 people were transported to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties, officials said. Four of them suffered serious injuries, according to Cary Evans, spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health.