At least 3 killed in derailment of Seattle-Chicago

JOPLIN, Mont. At least three people were killed Saturday afternoon when an Amtrak train running between Seattle and Chicago derailed in northern Montana, a Liberty County Sheriff’s Office official said.

Sender Starr Tyler told The Associated Press that three people died in the derailment. She had no more details. Amtrak said in a statement that there were several injuries.

The Empire Builder train derailed around 4pm near Joplin, a city of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement. The crash site is about 241 kilometers north of Helena and about 48 kilometers from the border with Canada.

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

The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, of which seven of those cars derailed, he said.

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

” My first thought was that we derailed because I honestly have anxiety and I had heard stories about train tracks, ” said Vandervest, who is from Minneapolis. ‘My second thought was that it was crazy. We would not derail. Like it does not happen. ‘

She told the Times that the car behind her was tilted, the one behind was completely tilted, and the three cars behind that ‘had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train.’

In a speech from the Liberty County Senior Center where passengers were taken, Vandervest said it felt like ‘extreme turbulence on a plane’.

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

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

Five Amtrak cars derailed around 6 p.m. 15:55 Mountain Daylight Time and no other trains or equipment were involved, Weiss said. The train was running on a BNSF Railroad highway at the time, he said.

Photos posted on social media showed several cars on their pages. Passengers stood next to the tracks and some carried luggage.

The pictures showed sunny skies, and it looked like the accident happened along a straight stretch of track.

Amtrak said that because of the derailment, the Sunday Westbound Empire Builder ends up in Minneapolis, and the Sunday Eastbound Empire Builder train originates from Minneapolis.

Other recent Amtrak derailments include:

– April 3, 2016: Two maintenance workers were hit and killed by an Amtrak train traveling more than 100 km / h in Chester, Pennsylvania. The train’s main engine derailed.

– March 14, 2016: An Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed in southwestern Kansas, sending five cars off the tracks, injuring at least 32 people. Investigators concluded that a truck with cattle feed hit the track and moved it at least one foot before the derailment.

– October 5, 2015: A passenger train on its way from Vermont to Washington, DC, derailed when it hit rocks that had fallen onto the track from a ledge. The locomotive and a car spilled onto a dam, derailed three other cars and injured seven people.

– May 12, 2015: Amtrak train 188 ran at twice the speed of 50 km / h as it entered a sharp curve in Philadelphia and derailed. Eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the locomotive and four of the train’s seven cars jumped off the tracks. Several cars overturned and ripped apart.


Associated Press Tom Krisher contributed to this report.


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