24 Hurt as Train Derails; Missing Worker Sought

United Press International

An Amtrak train traveling about 90 m.p.h. on a track closed for repairs slammed into a piece of equipment and derailed Friday, injuring 24 people and touching off a search for a worker who disappeared after failing to switch the train to another track.

The 10-car "Night Owl," carrying 130 people, struck a ballast regulator--a machine about the size of a pickup truck that adjusts the bed of crushed rock beneath the track, Amtrak spokesman Clifford Black said.

Workers jumped clear of the approaching train.

The "Night Owl," en route from Washington to Boston, jumped the tracks on a 16-foot-high overpass 15 miles south of Philadelphia.

Bill Loftus, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, said officials ordered a search for a worker who disappeared from his post after failing to switch the train away from the track.

National Transportation Safety Board member Joseph Nall said the worker's attorney contacted Amtrak officials Friday afternoon.

The man, who offered no explanation for his disappearance and whose whereabouts were still unknown, was expected to meet with investigators and undergo federally mandated drug and alcohol tests, Nall said. However, he did not say when the meeting would occur.

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