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Obama: Amtrak derailment “a tragedy that touches us all”

Emergency personnel gather near the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, after a fatal Amtrak derailment Tuesday night, in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Federal investigators arrived Wednesday to determine why an Amtrak train jumped the tracks in a wreck that killed at least six people, and injured dozens. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the derailment of Amtrak Train 188 “is a tragedy that touches us all.”

In a written statement, Obama offered prayers to the families who lost loved ones and the passengers beginning to recover. He said he and the first lady were “shocked and deeply saddened” to hear of the derailment.

The Northeast Regional carrying 238 passengers and five crew members derailed in Philadelphia shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday. The accident has closed the nation’s busiest rail corridor between Washington and New York as investigators try to determine what happened.

“Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many,” Obama said. “From Washington, DC and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all.

He commended first responders and said the effort to help passengers reaffirmed Philadelphia’s spirit of brotherly love.

Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that he has spent decades in Washington commuting via Amtrak to and from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. “Amtrak is like a second family to me, as it is for so many other passengers,” Biden said.

“I’ve come to know the conductors, engineers, and other regulars — men and women riding home to kiss their kids goodnight — as we passed the flickering lights of each neighborhood along the way. Our thoughts are with every person who is grieving right now from this terrible tragedy,” Biden said.

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