3 dead, 50 hurt in Amtrak Derailment in Montana

At least 3 dead, 50 hurt after Amtrak passenger train derails in Montana

The Empire Builder train, which runs between Seattle and Chicago, was carrying about 147 passengers

Representative Image. Credit: AFP File Photo

At least three people were killed and 50 others were injured after an Amtrak train derailed in Montana on Saturday afternoon, setting off a frantic response by rescuers who scrambled to extricate passengers from cars, authorities said.

Amtrak said that five cars on an Empire Builder train had derailed at roughly 4 pm local time. About 147 passengers and 13 crew members were on board, “with injuries reported,” Amtrak said in a statement.

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said that three people were confirmed dead.

Amanda Frickel, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, Montana, said in an interview “well over” 50 people had been injured.

Frickel said the train, which was headed west, derailed just outside Joplin, Montana, which is about 200 miles north of Helena.

Frickel said that rescuers from six counties were responding to the scene and that as many as five hospitals were on standby to receive injured passengers. There were also a number of medical helicopters standing by, she said.

“Everybody who is alive has been extricated from the wreck,” Frickel said.

Officials had evacuated survivors to two separate sites and were doing a headcount. Emergency responders planned to put people up in hotels once their medical needs had been seen.

“Every county around is assisting,” said Sheriff Donna Whitt of Toole County, Montana.

Amtrak said in a statement that it was “working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers, and safely evacuate all other passengers.”

Austin Knudsen, Montana’s attorney general, said that Montana Highway Patrol troopers were among those helping with the rescue efforts. “We are praying for the safety of all passengers and crew who were on board,” he said.

While derailments of Amtrak trains are rare, there have been deadly crashes in recent years.

In 2018, three people died after an Amtrak train traveled on the wrong track in South Carolina and slammed into a parked freight train. That same year, a train carrying Republican members of Congress hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

In 2015, an Amtrak train that had been traveling at more than 100 mph, twice the speed limit, careened off a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200.

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