An Amtrak train on its maiden trip derailed south of Tacoma this morning (Dec. 18), causing "multiple" fatalities.

According to reports from The Associated Press and multiple local and national media outlets, 13 of the 14 cars in the Portland-bound Amtrak Cascade left the tracks as the train crossed an overpass in Pierce County, 40 miles south of Seattle. The derailment left several train cars hanging off the overpass above Interstate 5, just outside DuPont.

AP reported that at least six people were killed in the accident, but neither the Washington State Patrol nor Amtrak would confirm that.

Submitted photo

CNN spoke with Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, who said the dead were all train passengers. "It's pretty horrific," Troyer told CNN.

AP said that hospital officials had confirmed that at least two people are in critical condition and 11 others are seriously injured. Four hospitals were treating 50 people, though their conditions weren't immediately known.

The Cascade line was in its first day of operation with 70-plus people on board.

CNN said the head of Amtrak admitted that an automatic speed restraint -- which should have automatically slowed the train if it were traveling at unsafe speeds -- was not in operation on the Cascade.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.
"Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," Inslee said in a statement. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need.
"Everyone should avoid traveling I-5, and WSDOT is working to open alternative routes through the area during the emergency response. This morning I spoke with my Cabinet officials, and we are in touch with Amtrak who we know are working to provide as much information as possible.

"WSDOT will have further updates on Twitter, those in the area can mark themselves safe with Facebook Safety Check, and I will be monitoring the situation with our team during the ongoing response."