Officials funnel info through Twitter after Amtrak derailment

Although longer statements were saved for traditional press events and media statements, the platform was an important channel for real-time information and updates.

Amid a disaster, many eyes turn to Twitter.

Thursday was no exception after a tragic train derailment in Washington state sent officials scrambling to update the public about casualties and the cause of the deadly crash. On the platform, blood centers solicited donations, and public figures offered condolences or hawked their political agendas.

On its inaugural run, an Amtrak train jumped the tracks south of Tacoma, Wash., killing at least three people and injuring others. The train was going 80 mph in a zone intended for 30 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

NPR reported:

Train 501 of Amtrak’s Cascades service from Seattle to Portland was on its maiden run of a faster-speed service when it careened off the track at a curve at DuPont on Monday. Thirteen of the train’s fourteen cars came off the tracks. In addition to the three people killed in the accident, dozens of people — train passengers, crew and from vehicles on the ground — were injured, Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Hall said. Ten of those hurt were in serious condition, four had moderate injuries and another nine suffered minor injuries, he said.

Asked if the NTSB had any theories as to why the train was traveling so fast in the 30 mph track zone, Dinh-Zarr told reporters, “It’s too early to tell.”

Amtrak used Twitter to relay updates about the derailment, beginning with a holding statement that acknowledged a situation and promised more detail to follow:

Amtrak later updated its response:

The Washington Department of Transportation tweeted:

It asked people to sign up for email updates:

The NTSB shared what steps it was taking to investigate the accident to determine its cause:

Others shared information about how to give blood:

The FBI also tweeted to let the public know that the train accident was an isolated incident and that Washington residents shouldn’t fear for their safety:

Others shared simple advice on how to avoid traffic slowdowns after the train blocked an important highway artery:

President Donald Trump immediately began calling for new infrastructure spending, a central promise of his 2016 campaign.

Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted his thoughts and condolences to those affected:

Meanwhile, pictures of mangled train cars elicited somber responses on Instagram:

Officials from Amtrak have also given traditional media statements.

The Washington Post reported:

“On behalf of everyone at Amtrak, we are deeply saddened by all that has happened today,” Amtrak president and co-chief executive Richard Anderson said in a statement Monday. “We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families.”

At an afternoon news conference, Gay Banks Olson, assistant superintendent at Amtrak, said the railroad’s first priority is to take care of passengers, employees and relatives affected.

“It is horrible that this happened to these passengers, but we are very grateful that there weren’t more people involved,” Banks Olson said. “We are going to do everything we can in the next few days and weeks to support these passengers and their families.”

By working multiple media channels, Amtrak and other transportation officials delivered quick updates as they became available and provided a record of their efforts to respond to the crisis.

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