Amtrak train with more than 150 onboard derails in Montana, killing at least 3

JOPLIN, Mont. — An Amtrak train that runs between Seattle and Chicago derailed late Saturday afternoon in north-central Montana, killing at least three people and injuring an undetermined number of other passengers, local authorities confirmed.

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Update 6:25 p.m. EDT Sept. 26: Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn issued a formal statement early Sunday evening, expressing condolences to the families of those killed in the Saturday afternoon derailment of the Empire Builder train near Joplin, Montana.

“We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow for those who lost a loved one or who were hurt in this horrible event. They are in our thoughts and prayers,” Flynn stated, adding that the company is “fully cooperating” with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, local law enforcement and response agencies.

At least three people were killed and dozens were injured when seven cars of the westbound passenger train derailed. Amtrak has confirmed that 141 passengers and 16 crew members were aboard the train at the time of the crash.

“We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself,” Flynn stated, noting that the NTSB will “identify the cause or causes of this accident” and that Amtrak “commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.”

Click here to read Flynn’s full statement.

Update 3:08 p.m. EDT Sept. 26: Five people remain hospitalized after Saturday’s Amtrak train derailment near Joplin, Montana, Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Sarah Robbin said at a news conference.

In a statement obtained by KTMF, Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Amit Rose said the agency was sending its “deepest condolences” to the families of the people who were killed.

“Our number one focus is safety and we are committed to taking all steps necessary to prevent a similar event from occurring again,” Rose said.

Liberty County Sheriff Nick Erickson said the names of the dead will not be released until relatives are notified.

Federal officials sent a team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to the site, according to The Associated Press.

.Update 8:47 a.m. EDT Sept. 26: In a statement Sunday, Amtrak said there were “approximately 141 passengers” and 16 crew members on board the Empire Builder, which derailed just outside Joplin, Montana.

“We are deeply saddened to learn local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident. There are also reported injuries among the passengers and crew members traveling on the train, Amtrak said in its updated statement. “Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport those who were injured to medical care, and to safely evacuate everyone else at the scene.”

Update 12 a.m. EDT Sept. 26: In an updated statement, Amtrak late Sunday revised the number of people aboard the Empire Builder, which crashed just outside Joplin, Montana, on Saturday afternoon, to 146 passengers and 16 crew members, KTMF reported.

According to the new statement, the passenger train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, seven of which derailed from the tracks, the TV station reported.

The company also noted that anyone with questions about friends and family who were onboard the train should call 800-523-9101.

Meanwhile, Amtrak announced the following schedule adjustments as a direct result of the derailment, KTMF reported:

  • Empire Builder trains 7/27 and 8/28, originating on Saturday, Sept. 25, are canceled between Minot, North Dakota and Shelby, Montana.
  • Westbound Empire Builder train 7 will terminate in Minneapolis on Sunday, while eastbound Empire Builder train 8 will originate in Minneapolis, Minnesota the same day.

Customers can contact Amtrak t 800-872-7245 for additional information about the status of services, but the company did confirm that no substitute transportation for the disrupted bookings will be available.

Update 11:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the Empire Builder crash, CNN reported late Sunday.

Update 10:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Amanda Frickel, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, Montana, confirmed to The New York Times that “well over” 50 people were injured when the Empire Builder line derailed.

Frickel also told the Times that rescuers from six counties were responding to the scene, a number of medical helicopters were on standby and as many as five hospitals are on standby to receive injured passengers. Meanwhile, evacuated survivors have been dispatched to two separate sites, where officials are conducting a head count.

“Everybody who is alive has been extricated from the wreck,” Frickel told the newspaper.

Update 10:12 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: The Liberty County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the three deaths to both KXLY-TV and KHQ-TV just before 10 p.m. EDT, or about four hours after the crash occurred.

Original report: Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams told KIRO-TV that a total of five cars derailed near Joplin, Montana, and confirmed that the company is “working with local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers.”

An estimated 147 passengers and 13 crew members were on the train when it derailed, Abrams said in an emailed response.

The train, identified by KXLY-TV as the Empire Builder line, derailed between the Havre and Shelby stops in Montana.

According to KHQ-TV, photos from the scene show multiple train cars off the tracks, with some tipped completely on their sides.

The train derailed about 1 mile from Joplin, Montana, a town of about 200 people, according to KSEN.

Neither the cause of the derailment nor the conditions of the injured passengers was immediately clear, KHQ-TV reported.