At least three people were killed when an Amtrak train running between Seattle and Chicago derailed in north-central Montana on Saturday afternoon, a Liberty County Sheriff’s Office official said.
Dispatcher Star Tyler told The Associated Press that three people died in the derailment. He didn’t have more details. Amtrak said in a statement that there were multiple injuries.
Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement that the Empire Builder train derailed at 4 p.m. near Joplin, a city with a population of about 200. The crash site is about 241 km north of Helena and about 48 km from the Canadian border.
Abrams said there were about 147 passengers and 13 crew members on board the train.
Megan Vanderwest, a passenger on the train who was visiting a friend in Seattle, told the new York Times that she had woken up from the derailment.
“My first thought was that we were derailing, to be honest, I’m worried and I’ve heard stories of trains derailing,” said Vanderwest, who lives in Minneapolis. “My second thought was he’s crazy. We’re not going to be derailed. Like, it doesn’t happen.”
He told me Times That the car behind him was tilted, the car behind him completely overturned, and that the three cars behind him had “completely fallen off the tracks and separated from the train.”
Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where the passengers were being taken, VanderWest said it felt like “extreme turbulence in the aircraft.”
Abrams said Amtrak was working with local officials to move the injured passengers and evacuate all other passengers.
Several cars are seen beside them in the pictures posted on social media. Passengers were standing on the side of the track, carrying some luggage.
The images showed sunny skies, and the accident appeared to have occurred along a straight section of tracks.