Three Dead in Amtrak Derailment in Montana

Three people were killed and many injured when an Amtrak train headed from Chicago to Seattle derailed near Joplin, Montana, on Saturday.

Eight of the ten cars on the Empire Builder train derailed on tracks operated by BNSF at 4 p.m. local time, according to a statement from Amtrack. The train had “approximately 141 passengers and 16 crew members on board,” according to Amtrack.

“BNSF is working closely with Amtrak and local authorities and already have personnel on-site,” Lena Kent, the general director of public affairs at BNSF Railway, said in an email to The Epoch Times. “The cause of the incident is under investigation and BNSF will coordinate with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) team. Our deepest sympathies are with the families of those who lost their lives, as well as the injured.”

Amtrak said in a statement, “Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport those who were injured to medical care, and to safely evacuate everyone else at the scene.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is deploying a 14-member team to investigate the derailment. Amtrak said it had a team on the ground to “fully support” the NTSB probe.

One of the cars of the train ended up on its side, while several others were tilted, photos from the scene of the incident show. Images on social media show emergency workers hoisting ladders on the toppled car.

The accident site is approximately 150 miles northeast of Helena, Montana, and about 30 miles from the Canadian border.

Passengers from the wreck were sent to staging locations, including 50 or 60 sent to a local school in Chester.

“I went to the school and assisted with water, food, wiping dirt off faces,” Chester Councilwoman Rachel Ghekiere told The Associated Press. “They appeared to be tired, shaken but happy that they were where they were. Some looked more disheveled than others, depending where they were on the train.”

A nearby grocery store and a religious community provided food, Ghekiere said. The passengers were then bused to hotels in Shelby, according to Ghekiere.

Amtrak said that as a result of the derailment, the westbound Empire Builder train would terminate in Minneapolis on Sunday. The eastbound train would originate in Minneapolis on Sunday.

On March 14, 2016, an Amtrak train bound for Chicago from Los Angeles derailed in southwest Kansas, injuring at least 32 people. A subsequent investigation determined that a cattle feed truck hit the track and shifted it prior to the derailment.

On Oct.5, 2015, seven people were injured when an Amtrak train traveling from Vermont to Washington, D.C., derailed due to rocks which fell onto the tracks from a ledge.

On May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train speeding at twice the 50 mph speed limit derailed from a sharp curve in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.