At least three people have died and other passengers have been injured after seven cars from an Amtrak train derailed in north-central Montana, an official from the local sheriff’s office said.
Those trapped on board shortly after Saturday’s derailment were all disembarked from the train, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office official said, on condition of anonymity.
There were several injuries but no final tally, the official added.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday night it would investigate.
The Empire Builder train had around 147 passengers and 13 crew on board when seven cars derailed near Joplin, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said. He was heading to Seattle from Chicago, local media reported.
Megan Vandervest, a train passenger who was going to visit a friend in Seattle, told the New York Times that she was awakened by the derailment.
“My first thought was that we were derailed because, to be honest, I have anxiety and I had heard stories of trains going off the rails,” said Vandervest, from Minneapolis.
“My second thought was it’s crazy. We would not be derailing. Like, that doesn’t happen.
She told the newspaper that the car behind hers was overturned, the one behind that was fully overturned, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and pulled away from the train.”
Speaking from the Liberty County senior center, where passengers were taken, Vandervest said it sounded like “extreme turbulence on a plane.”
Amtrak was working with local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers, Abrams added.
The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 14-member team, including investigators and specialists in railway signals and other disciplines, to investigate the crash, spokesman Eric Weiss said.
No other train or equipment was involved in the derailment, Weiss said.