An Amtrak passenger train has crashed in Philadelphia, killing at least five people and leaving at least 50 others injured.

Train 188 was travelling from Washington DC to New York City on Tuesday night when it crashed. The front of the train was going into a turn when it shook.

Mayor Michael Nutter, who confirmed the deaths, said the scene was horrific.

"It is an absolute disastrous mess," he said. "Never seen anything like this in my life."

An employee of the AP news agency on the train said it appears the train went off the tracks. Paul Cheung said he was fortunate to be at the back of the train and the front of it "looks pretty bad."

Police in the Port Richmond area where the crash occurred were said to be telling people to get away from the scene.

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy was on the train and said he had been helping people.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it is gathering information about an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Source: Agencies