Is This Amtrak's Deadliest Crash In History?

The death toll in the Amtrak derailment has gone up. Eight people are confirmed dead in the Amtrak crash, and more than 200 are injured, with at least eight of them in critical condition. It's without a doubt one of the worst Amtrak crashes in history, but it's not the deadliest. The deadliest Amtrak crash in history happened just over 20 years ago in Alabama, and claimed nearly seven times as many lives (given that the death toll related to Tuesday's crash doesn't rise further).

At around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, an Amtrak train carrying 238 passengers and five crew members derailed in Philadelphia on its way from Washington to New York. In the aftermath, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has described the scene as "an absolute, disastrous mess." At least seven people have been confirmed dead while more than 200 were rushed to various hospitals in the area. At least 56 passengers were still being treated on Wednesday, while officials continue to search for those unaccounted for.

No matter how you look at it, the most recent Amtrak crash is a devastating episode, and one of the company's worst accidents in recent years. But to put it in context with Amtrak's history of accidents, here's how Tuesday's derailment compares to the company's deadliest case to date.

The Crashes

At about 3 a.m. on September 22, 1993, an Amtrak train hit a dislodged track on a swing bridge over the Big Bayou Canot near Mobile, Alabama, at 70 miles per hour and derailed. The derailment caused the bridge to collapse and the lead locomotive to crash into a mud bank and explode. The locomotive crash caused a fuel spill, which sparked a massive fire, while several other cars ended up in the water.

On May 12, 2015, an Amtrak Northeast Regional train was possibly traveling at more than 100 miles per hour when it derailed at a curve in the tracks near the intersection of Frankford Avenue and Wheatsheaf in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood. The derailment caused all seven cars to tip over and completely mangled the front of the train.

Aftermath & Casualties

In 1993, a total of 47 people were killed in the crash, some by fire and smoke inhalation and others by drowning, making it the deadliest crash in Amtrak's history by far. An additional 103 people were also injured.

Tuesday's crash has killed seven confirmed people so far and injured more than 200, who were rushed to local hospitals, including Temple University Hospital, Jefferson University Hospital, and Einstein Medical Center. They suffered a range of injuries, from minor scrapes to bone fractures and head traumas.


The derailment in 1993 was caused by a towboat pushing a barge in the Big Bayou Canot near Mobile, Alabama, when it got lost in the thick fog and accidentally hit the bridge, displacing part of it along with the train track.

Investigators are still determining the exact cause of the derailment on Tuesday, but according to the train's data recorder, excessive speed might have been the main factor. Official sources claim Amtrak 188 was traveling at more than 100 mph, twice as fast as the 50 mph speed limit imposed around the curve.

Images: Getty Images (1), Wikipedia Commons (1)