Two dead in train derailment in US

An Amtrak train struck a piece of construction equipment just south of Philadelphia causing a derailment, killing two Amtrak workers and sending more than 30 passengers to hospitals, authorities said.

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Train 89 was heading from New York to Savannah, Georgia, when it hit a backhoe on the track in Chester, just outside of Philadelphia on Sunday, officials said.

The impact derailed the lead engine of the train that was carrying more than 300 passengers and seven crew members.

Chester fire commissioner Travis Thomas said two people were killed.

New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, told reporters he was told by Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia that the workers killed were the Amtrak backhoe operator and a supervisor.

He said debris from the crash flew into the first two cars, causing the injuries to passengers.

Schumer said it is unclear whether the backhoe was performing regular maintenance, which is usually scheduled on Sunday mornings because there are fewer trains on the tracks, or whether it was clearing debris from high winds in the area overnight.

A message left with Amtrak officials has yet to be returned.

Thomas and Amtrak officials said more than 30 people were taken to hospitals with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating, while officials with the Federal Railroad Administration were also sent to the scene, said Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for the agency.

The derailment comes almost a year after an Amtrak train originating from Washington DC bound for New York City derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200.

The exact cause of the May 12 crash is still under investigation, but authorities have said the train had been travelling twice the speed limit.