At least three people died on Saturday and some passengers were injured after seven cars of an Amtrak train went off the rails in north-central Montana, an official at a local sheriff’s office said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said late on Saturday it will investigate the incident.
People trapped aboard soon after the derailment have all been taken off the train, said the official of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Empire Builder train derailed at 4 p.m. near Joplin, a town of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement.
The train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew members onboard, Abrams said.
Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train 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 derailing because, to be honest, I have anxiety and I had heard stories about trains derailing,” said Vandervest, who is from Minneapolis. “My second thought was that’s crazy. We wouldn’t be derailing. Like, that doesn’t happen.”
She told the Times that the car behind hers was tilted over, the one behind that was entirely tipped over, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train.”
Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where passengers were being taken, Vandervest said it felt like “extreme turbulence on a plane.”
Amtrak was working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers, Abrams added.
Photos posted to social media showed several cars on their sides. Passengers were standing alongside the tracks, some carrying luggage.
The images showed sunny skies, and it appeared the accident occurred along a straight section of tracks.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)