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Amtrak train was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour when it derailed

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An Amtrak train in Philadelphia was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour, over twice the speed limit, when it entered a curve in the tracks and derailed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200, federal investigators said on Wednesday.

While the precise cause of Tuesday night’s crash remains to be determined, experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe the derailment would have been prevented by installation of an advanced safety system called “positive train control,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said.

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The engineer of the New York City-bound passenger train applied the locomotive’s emergency braking system just after entering the curved stretch of track, where the maximum allowed speed is 50 miles per hour (80 km per hour), Sumwalt said.

But the brakes managed to only slightly slow the train to 102 mph from 106 mph (171 kph) before the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derailed, he said.

Authorities have offered no explanation for why the locomotive was traveling at more than double the authorized speed.

Sumwalt said NTSB investigators had not yet interviewed the engineer, who was injured in the wreck, but planned to do so in the next couple of days.

“This person has gone through a very traumatic event and we want to give him an opportunity to convalesce for a day or two,” Sumwalt said. “But that is certainly a very high priority for us.”

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He said the data collected by black box event recorder recovered from the wreckage had yet to be fully analyzed, and investigators also planned to pore over video footage from forward-facing cameras attached to the train.

He said the NTSB team expected to remain on the crash scene for about a week.

In addition to speed, the NTSB has said it was focusing on the condition of the tracks and signaling equipment, crew training and the performance of the five-person crew.

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The commuter rail route where the Amtrak train left the track was not governed by positive train control technology, which is designed to prevent high-speed derailments, officials said.

Passenger rail service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest with 12 million passengers a year, was shut down immediately after the accident at about 9:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0130 GMT Wednesday), leaving travelers scrambling for alternatives. The derailment also snarled commuter rail services that share Amtrak tracks in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

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Nearly a day after Amtrak No. 188 jumped the track, rescue workers were still pulling apart the twisted metal and sifting through other debris left by the crash. One of the seven cars landed upside down and three were tossed on their sides, while passengers and luggage were sent flying, survivors said, inflicting severe injuries on some of them.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a news conference that seven people were confirmed dead, but authorities had not yet accounted for everyone believed to have been on board. He said rescue teams expanded the search area out of fear that some victims may have been thrown from the train when it derailed.

Positive train control (PTC) automatically slows or even halts trains that are moving too fast or heading into a danger zone. Under current law, the rail industry must adopt the technology by year-end.

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But the crash came a day before the House Appropriations Committee approved a transportation budget for the next fiscal year that included a funding cut for Amtrak.

One amendment proposed by Democrats called for $825 million in capital investments in PTC technologies for passenger rail, but it was blocked by the Republican majority.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Laila Kearney and Ryan McNeill in New York, and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)


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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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