Kimberly Fossen via AP
At least three passengers were killed and many others injured when an Amtrak train derailed in Montana, according to a press release.
On Saturday, around 4 p.m. local time, the Empire Builder train 7/27 — which was traveling westbound from Chicago to Seattle/Portland — derailed on tracks near Joplin, Montana, Amtrak said in a statement.
According to the railroad service, there were approximately 141 passengers and 16 crew members onboard the train, which was composed of two locomotives and ten cars. Eight of those cars ended up derailing.
Kimberly Fossen via AP
In its statement, Amtrak confirmed the deaths of the three individuals per local authorities, while also reporting injuries among the passengers and crew members.
Amtrak did not immediately release the number of injured, though Amanda Frickel, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, told The New York Times that "well over" 50 individuals had sustained injuries.
We are closely monitoring the situation involving a derailed passenger train near Chester. Please join me in praying for all involved and the first responders on the ground.
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) September 26, 2021
Speaking with CNN, passenger Megan Vandervest said that she was taking a nap in a sleeper car on the train when she was forced awake by the incident.
"I would describe the experience as kind of extreme turbulence on an airplane but louder, and there was kind of a lot of smoke smell," she explained to the outlet. Vandervest added, "It was probably 10 or 15 seconds of rocking back and forth and tons of noise, and then we came to a stop. Really we didn't know what was going on for a couple minutes."
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Fellow rider Carrie Schoeffling detailed to CBS News that she was riding in the train's fourth car when the derailment occurred, though her car did not tip over.
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The passenger told the outlet that she heard a boom before her car began "pitching violently side to side" and ultimately derailing.
According to CBS News, many of the passengers who were injured in the accident were taken to nearby Chester High School in Chester, Montana, for evaluation and to receive aid.
The NTSB is launching a go-team to investigate Saturday’s derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder train near Joplin, Montana. Team will be based in Great Falls, Montana. Check Twitter @ntsb_newsrooom for updates.
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) September 26, 2021
The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Twitter that it plans to send a team to look into the derailment. "The NTSB is launching a go-team to investigate Saturday's derailment of Amtrak's Empire Builder train near Joplin, Montana," the organization tweeted. "Team will be based in Great Falls, Montana."
After the incident, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte asked followers in a tweet to "join me in praying for all involved and the first responders on the ground."
I’m closely monitoring the Empire Builder derailment on the Hi-Line. I have been in touch with Amtrak as we work to learn more and my thoughts are with all the passengers, crew, and first responders on the scene.
— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) September 26, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana also shared a social media statement, tweeting, "My thoughts are with all the passengers, crew, and first responders on the scene."
Amtrak said that anyone with questions about friends and family who were aboard the train should reach out to (800) 523-9101 for further information.