At least seven people have died and another 77 have been injured after an Amtrak passenger train careered of the rails and crashed onto the motorway below.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on December 19, 2017

An Amtrak passenger train derailed near Dupont, Washington, with a number of carriages careering off the Interstate 5 overpass and crashing on to the motorway below.

At least seven people are believed to have died, and another 77 are being treated in hospital.

Despite multiple vehicles being hit on the I-5 below the overpass, the fatalities “are all contained to the train”, said Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “It’s pretty horrific.”

The derailment, which occurred just before 8am local time on Monday, took place on a section of track previously only used for freight trains.

It was Amtrak’s first passenger service to run on that stretch of track, which was recently upgraded as part of a $US181 million ($236 million) project. It was reportedly travelling at 130 km/h.

Passenger Chris Karnes, told local news outlet KIRO 7 his train car had flown down an embankment before coming to a stop.

“We could hear and feel the cars crumpling and breaking apart, and water came out from the ceiling,” he said.

We could hear and feel the cars crumpling and breaking apart.

“In order to get out… we had to kick out the emergency window.”

Another passenger, Danae Orlob told CNN: “We came around the corner and it had to have just happened … there were no police there yet. There was one link of the train off to one side and the other on the other side of the freeway. There were crushed cars underneath. There was an insane amount of fire trucks and ambulances heading towards us.”

CNN has reported the communication between dispatch and the train conductor.

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.

President Donald Trump used the tragedy to promote an infrastructure plan before offering his “heartfelt prayers” to the victims and thanking the first responders.