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By Reuters

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday the government has opened a price-gouging investigation involving five airlines that allegedly raised airfares in the Northeast after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May disrupted rail service.

The Transportation Department released letters to five airlines — Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue — seeking information on Friday. "The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable," Foxx said.

The department is exploring whether the price hikes violated federal regulations prohibiting airlines from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.

Emergency workers look through the remains of a derailed Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in this file photo taken May 13, 2015.LUCAS JACKSON / Reuters

The investigation announced by Foxx appears to be separate from one revealed early this month in which the Department of Justice is examining possible collusion among major airlines to limit available seats that keeps airfares high.