Several dead as Amtrak train derails in US state of Montana

An official says at least three people were killed after an Amtrak train carrying 147 passengers derailed near the town of Joplin.

In this photo provided by Kimberly Fossen, people work at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment on Saturday, in north-central Montana [Kimberly Fossen via AP]

Several people have died in the United States when an Amtrak train went off the rails in the state of Montana, according to an official.

Starr Tyler, dispatcher at the Liberty Country Sherriff’s Office, told The Associated Press news agency that at least three people were killed in Saturday’s incident.

She did not have more details.

Amtrak said it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths, adding there were also multiple injuries.

It said the Empire Builder train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew on board when five cars derailed near the town of Joplin at 4pm (22:00 GMT).

“Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers, and safely evacuate all other passengers,” it added.

The cause of Saturday’s incident was not immediately clear.

US media reported the train was headed for the western city of Seattle from Chicago.

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.

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”.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it will send a 14-member team, including investigators and specialists in railway signals and other disciplines, to investigate the derailment.

Source: News Agencies