Officials said that an Amtrak passenger train crashed near Joplin on Saturday killing at least three. Five people remain in hospital, with five others still being treated for minor injuries, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte stated at a press conference. He also said that the remaining patients who required medical attention had been released.
“At approximately 4 p.m. MT on Saturday, Sept. 25, Empire Builder train 7/27, traveling westbound from Chicago to Seattle/Portland, derailed operating on BNSF tracks near Joplin, MT. There were approximately 141 passengers and 17 crew members onboard,” Amtrak said Sunday in a statement.
According to Amtrak, eight of the train’s 10 cars derailed. According to Amtrak, there were also two locomotives on the train.
Photos from the scene show at least one car tipping over onto its side. Carrie Schoeffling was a passenger in the fourth vehicle. She said that her car was derail but didn’t tip over. Schoefling claimed that the carriage started “pitching violently to one side and then derailed.”
About 60 passengers spent the night at nearby Chester High School in Chester, Montana. Gianforte stated that all passengers who did not require medical attention were taken out of Chester Sunday.
Amtrak had announced that, “As a result of the derailment, Empire Builder trains 7/27 and 8/28 originating on Sat. Sept. 25 are cancelled between Minot, ND (MOT) and Shelby, MT (SBY) Additionally, on Sunday, Sept. 26, westbound Empire Builder train 7 will terminate in Minneapolis, MN (MSP) and eastbound Empire Builder train 8 will originate in Minneapolis, MN (MSP). There is no substitute transport. “
Andrew Sivula was another passenger who got stuck in one the cars that had come off the train.
“I heard a loud bang, then the cars tipped,” Sivula told CBS News’ Meg Oliver.
Sivula, along with other passengers, worked alongside first responders to use ladders to get people stuck in the cars that had been flipped over.
” I was able pop out my window and get out to help others. Then we went and got ladders so that we could reach other people.” he stated.
Passenger Wayne Freed said that he was changing his car when it happened. By grabbing the table that was bolted to his floor, he survived.
“The train tipped about 45 degrees,” Freed said. It would end, I thought. It’s horrible to imagine what might have happened had I not been able hold onto the rope. It was unclear what caused the derailment. The section of track where the derailment occurred was last inspected on September 23, according to officials. According to officials, the National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigation team.
Gianforte stated that derailments cannot be removed from the lines until the NTSB has completed its investigation. He said, “When the NTSB gives me the green light, BNSF assured me that they will get the line running quickly, but it is important to know the facts first.” The governor said these types of investigations are typically completed in fewer than 10 days.
Montana Attorney-General Austin Knudsen stated in a statement, that Montana Highway Patrol members were helping with rescue efforts. Knudsen stated that he was praying for all the passengers and crew aboard.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn stated in a Sunday statement that his company was “fully cooperating” with the investigation and working with National Transportation Safety Board (Federal Railroad Administration), local law enforcement agencies, and other response agencies. “
” We share the urgency to find out why this accident occurred. However, the investigation will take place before we can comment on it. Amtrak has committed to stopping similar accidents in the future and will work with the NTSB to identify their cause. “
Flynn stated that Amtrak sent emergency personnel and Amtrak leaders to the scene in order to support passengers, employees, and families. “
The Empire Builder runs between Chicago and Seattle.
Errol Barnett and Savannah Sinfield contributed to this report.
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