Washington – At least three people were killed and dozens more injured when a U.S. train derailed in northern Montana on Saturday afternoon, rescuers rushing to safely evacuate everyone on board.
About 141 passengers and 16 crew members were traveling from Chicago to the Pacific coast when eight of the 10 cars derailed around 4:00 p.m. (22:00 GMT).
“We are deeply saddened to learn that local authorities now confirm that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident,” train operator Amtrak said, adding that there were “reported injuries” as well.
The cause of the incident was not immediately clear.
Images posted on social media showed people waiting near the tracks, luggage strewn beside them, train cars seen on the track list and at least one overturned on the side.
The National Transportation and Safety Council said it was launching a “response team” to investigate the derailment.
Amtrak said it sent emergency personnel to the scene to assist local authorities with the evacuation effort.
Montana Emergency and Disaster Services Coordinator Amanda Frickel told the New York Times that “more than 50 people have been injured.”
She said rescue teams were at the scene and several hospitals – as well as medical helicopters – were on standby.
Authorities have not disclosed further details yet, she said, adding: “All who are alive have been removed from the wreckage.”
The Empire Builder train derailed in a remote area near Joplin, Montana, a town of about 200 people near the border with Canada.
Montana Senator Jon Tester said he was monitoring the derailment.
“My thoughts are with all passengers, crew and first responders at the scene,” he added.
Amtrak said it was canceling some trains on Saturday between the states of North Dakota and Montana, and cutting two Empire Builder train services on Sunday, with no alternate transportation available.
The US rail network suffers from chronic underfunding and fatal accidents sometimes occur.
In 2018, two people died in South Carolina when an Amtrak train running on the wrong track collided with a stationary freight train, in an accident later blamed on safety breaches.
A year earlier, an Amtrak passenger train on a new route for the first time derailed in Washington state, killing at least three people as cars plunged from a bridge over a busy highway in the height of morning rush hour.
United States: three dead and dozens injured after train derailment
SourceUnited States: three dead and dozens injured after train derailment