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US: 3 dead, several injured as Amtrak train derails in Montana

AP/Joplin
Filed on September 26, 2021
Rescue workers at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment on Sept. 25, in north-central Montana. Photo: AP

Five cars of train running between Seattle and Chicago derailed in Montana

Multiple people were injured when a train derailed on Saturday in the US state of Montana, rail operator Amtrak said.

"Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers, and safely evacuate all other passengers," the firm said in a statement, adding approximately 147 passengers and 13 crew were on board.

Five of the train's cars derailed around 4 pm (2200 GMT) near Joplin in northern Montana, the statement said.

Footage posted on social media showed people waiting by the tracks, luggage strewn next to them, and several train carriages can be seen listing off the rails with at least one toppled onto its side.

Montana's Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator told the New York Times that more than one person had been killed and "well over 50 people had been injured". At least three people were killed Saturday afternoon when an Amtrak train that runs between Seattle and Chicago derailed in north-central Montana, an official with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dispatcher Starr Tyler told The Associated Press that three people died in the derailment. She did not have more details. Amtrak said in a statement that there were multiple injuries.

The Empire Builder train derailed about 4 p.m. near Joplin, a town of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement. The accident scene is about 150 miles (241 kilometers) north of Helena and about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the border with Canada.

The train had about 146 passengers and 16 crew members onboard, Abrams said.

The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, with seven of those cars derailing, he said.

Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train who was going to visit a friend in Seattle, told The New York Times that she was awakened by the derailment.

“My first thought was that we were derailing because, to be honest, I have anxiety and I had heard stories about trains derailing,” said Vandervest, who is from Minneapolis. “My second thought was that’s crazy. We wouldn’t be derailing. Like, that doesn’t happen.”

She told the Times that the car behind hers was tilted over, the one behind that was entirely tipped over, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train.”

Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where passengers were being taken, Vandervest said it felt like “extreme turbulence on a plane.”

Amtrak was working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers, Abrams added.

The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 14-member team, including investigators and specialists in railroad signals and other disciplines, to investigate the crash, spokesman Eric Weiss said.

Five Amtrak cars derailed around 3:55 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time and no other trains or equipment were involved, Weiss said. The train was traveling on a BNSF Railroad main track at the time, he said.

Photos posted to social media showed several cars on their sides. Passengers were standing alongside the tracks, some carrying luggage.

The images showed sunny skies, and it appeared the accident occurred along a straight section of tracks.

Amtrak said that because of the derailment, the Sunday westbound Empire Builder will terminate in Minneapolis, and the Sunday eastbound Empire Builder train will originate in Minneapolis.





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