At least three people were killed and dozens more injured in a train accident in the USA. According to the state railroad company Amtrak, the train derailed with around 160 people on board on Saturday afternoon (local time) in the state of Montana. The cause of the accident was initially unclear, the rescue work was in full swing.
The train with about 141 passengers and 16 crew members on board was on its way from Chicago to Seattle on the Pacific coast. The accident occurred in a remote area in the northwestern state of Montana near the village of Joplin, population 200. Around 4:00 p.m. (local time, 00:00 CEST), eight of the ten rail cars derailed.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that local authorities now confirm that three people have died in this accident," Amtrak said. The company is working with local authorities to get the injured passengers and employees to safety, it said.
Montana's disaster response coordinator, Amanda Frickel, told The New York Times there were "well over 50 people injured." Emergency responders were on the scene, she said, and rescue helicopters were standing by. Several hospitals in the region were preparing to receive injured passengers. "All survivors have been rescued from the wreckage," she said. Authorities could not provide further details for now.
Videos posted on online networks and circulated by local media showed wagons jumping off the tracks, with at least one wagon lying on its side. Next to the tracks were waiting passengers with luggage.
"My thoughts are with all the passengers, crew and rescuers on the scene," said Montana Senator Jon Tester. The National Transportation Safety Board said an investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident.
The rail network in the U.S. is chronically underfunded, and fatal accidents are not uncommon. In 2018, two people died in the state of South Carolina when an Amtrak train collided with a freight train. Seventy people were injured. Later, a lack of safety checks was blamed for the accident.
In 2017, three people died when an Amtrak train derailed for the first time while traveling on a new line in Washington state. Several rail cars fell from a bridge onto a busy highway during rush hour. The worst rail accident in half a century occurred in 1972, when two suburban trains collided in Chicago - 45 people died and more than 330 were injured.
Image by Ray Miller