By NEDRA PICKLER
In a written statement, Obama offered prayers to the families of the victims and to the passengers beginning to recover.
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.
"Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many," Obama said. "From Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama called Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and expressed appreciation for how first responders rushed to save lives.
Earnest said Obama conveyed the message that he is "very interested in getting more insight" into the cause. "The president vowed to make sure that this is an incident that receives a thorough investigation," Earnest said.
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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