At least three killed in Amtrak train derailment in Montana
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear and federal safety authorities will investigate
At least three people were killed on Saturday afternoon when an Amtrak train that runs between Seattle and Chicago derailed in north-central Montana, toppling several cars onto their sides, authorities said.
The westbound Empire Builder train derailed at about 4pm near Joplin, a town of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said. The accident scene is about 150 miles north-east of Helena and about 30 miles from the border with Canada.
Liberty county sheriff’s dispatcher Starr Tyler said three people died. She did not have more details. Amtrak said in a statement that there were multiple injuries.
The train had about 141 passengers and 16 crew members onboard, Abrams said. The train had two locomotives and 10 cars, eight of which derailed, he said.
“We are deeply saddened to learn local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident,” Abrams said.
Megan Vandervest, a passenger 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 the car behind hers was tilted, the one behind that was tipped over, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train”.