Updated: 19/12/17 : 07:23:16
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World :: Three confirmed dead in US train derailment

At least three people have been confirmed killed after a US passenger train derailed onto a motorway in Washington state during rush hour on Monday morning.

Officials say 72 people were taken to hospitals after most of the Amtrak train's carriages left the track.

A number of those injured are reported to be in a critical condition.

Authorities said all carriages had now been searched, but would not rule out a rise in the number of dead.

Seven vehicles, two of them lorries, were hit on the I-5 highway below. Several people were injured in their vehicles but none died.

It was Amtrak's first passenger service to run on a new, shorter route.

Train 501 had left Seattle, heading south for Portland, at 06:00 local time (14:00 GMT). The derailment happened on a section of track, south of Tacoma, previously only used for freight trains.

Authorities quoted by Associated Press earlier spoke of at least six people killed.

One passenger carriage could be seen dangling from the bridge, while others were strewn across the road and the wooded area next to the track.

A photograph released by Washington State Patrol showed one carriage upside down on the road, with wreckage all around it.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the train had derailed at 07:33 local time (15:33 GMT).

There were 86 people on board, including 77 passengers and seven Amtrak crew members, as well as a train technician.

Police say 19 people were taken from the scene uninjured. Of the 72 transferred to hospitals for evaluation, 10 were considered to have serious injuries.

A state transport spokesperson was quoted in the Seattle Times newspaper as saying the curve where the train derailed had a 30mph (48km/h) speed limit.

Barbara LaBoe said the limit on most of the track was 79mph (128km/h) but drivers were supposed to slow dramatically at the spot where the train derailed.

She said warning signs were in place two miles before the lowered limit. The Associated Press reported that a website mapping train speeds suggested the train may have been travelling at 81mph before the derailment.

The cause of Monday's crash has not been confirmed and investigators have not yet commented on whether speed was a factor.