Amtrak train derails in remote part of Montana, US, killing three people, injuring 50
An Amtrak train travelling from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest derailed in a remote part of Montana in the US on Saturday afternoon, 25 September 2021, killing three people and hospitalising five others. Eight cars from Amtrak's Empire Builder train 7/27 headed westbound to Seattle/Portland derailed at about 16h00 near Joplin, a town about 30 miles south of the Canadian border with a population of about 150 people. The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars and there were about 146 passengers and 16 crew members on board, Amtrak said in an additional statement Sunday. The injured were treated at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, while others who were injured have been treated and released from a variety of local hospitals, said Sarah Robbin, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Liberty County.
Amanda Frickel, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, said rescuers from six adjoining counties responded and that five hospitals were on alert to care for the injured. Injured passengers were taken by ambulance to the towns of Havre, Shelby, Great Falls and Fort Benton and those who were in critical condition were flown for treatment, said Frickel.
"The passengers that were able to be transported from the derailment to the shelters were accounted for, fed and given meds if theirs were lost or missing," Frickel said. "Then they were safely bussed to Shelby MT for the evening."
"We are deeply saddened to learn local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident. There are also reported injuries among the passengers and crew members travelling on the train. 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," said Amtrak in a statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday it is reviewing on-board video as well as data from the train's ‘black box’.
NTSB vice chair Bruce Landsberg said a team of 14 investigators and experts on the ground in Joplin will review train 7/27's front-facing video as well as video from the same vantage point on a freight train that passed through the area almost an hour and a half before the derailment. "We don't know at that this point whether it was a track issue or an issue with the train, so all of these things are open," Landsberg said. "There's a lot of ground to cover and there is significant damage, so our experts are going to be really looking at that."
Landsberg said train data shows it traveling between 75 and 78 miles per hour before it departed a right-curving section of track where the speed limit was 79 miles per hour.
Investigators will interview the train's crew as well as BNSF Railway track inspectors who conducted an inspection where the eight of the train's 10 cars left the tracks.
The Empire Builder travels between Chicago-StPaul/Minneapolis-Spokane-Portland/Seattle, according to Amtrak's website, and offers passengers a chance to "experience the rugged splendour of the American West."
Sources: The New York Times, Amtrak