At least three people died and other 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.
People trapped on board soon after the derailment on Saturday had all been taken off the train, said the official of the Liberty County sheriff’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There were multiple injuries but no final count, the official added.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said late on Saturday it would investigate.
The Empire Builder train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew on board when seven cars derailed near Joplin, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said. It was headed for Seattle from Chicago, local media 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 woken up 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. Me gusta, that doesn’t happen.”
She told the newspaper 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.
The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 14-member team, including investigators and specialists in railroad signals and other disciplines, to investigate the crash, spokesman Eric Weiss said.
No other trains or equipment were involved in the derailment, Weiss said.