Footage from the scene shows that several cars of the four-car train had left the tracks and one had tumbled down an embankment. Smoke was seen rising from the wreckage. Air ambulances and Coast Guard helicopters came and went as the rescue operation went on.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a police investigation aimed to uncover the cause of the derailment and ensure “nothing like this happens again.”
“As I understand it, there was about a month of rain in a very short period of time, which definitely made the problem worse there,” he added.
Torrential rains had caused flooding and travel disruption in Scotland, and on Wednesday morning Network Rail Scotland tweeted warnings of a landslide affecting services in the area.
It was not known how many people were on the train, an early morning ScotRail service between Aberdeen and Glasgow.
UK Transport Police Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie said the derailed train was not a very busy service, “and according to (CCTV) investigations and witness statements we believe all passengers have been found. ”
“However, once the area is secured, a full and thorough search will be carried out which will likely take some time,” he said.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the derailment a “major” incident and said she would call an emergency response meeting.
Transport police said officers were called at 9.43am (0843GMT) on the railway line near the coastal town of Stonehaven, about 160 kilometers northeast of Edinburgh and south of Aberdeen.
Local lawmaker Andrew Bowie was in Stonehaven to monitor flood damage earlier Wednesday.
“The situation was really bad this morning. The Carron River, the main river that runs through it, had erupted from its banks, and the heavy rains had caused flooding in central Stonehaven and many side streets running through it, ”he told me.
Bowie added that the water had receded and it was unclear whether the flooding was related to the derailment.
“We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we suffered terrible weather conditions here,” he said.
Serious rail accidents are rare in the UK The country’s last fatal derailment dates back to 2007.
Queen Elizabeth II sent a message of condolence, saying: “It is with great sadness that I heard about the train derailment.” She added that the entire royal family joined her in sending thoughts and prayers to the families of those affected.
The head of Network Rail has interrupted a family vacation to return to the UK. Chief Railway Inspector Ian Prosser said inspectors were at the site helping with the preliminary investigation.