- The Westbound Empire Builder train with 111 passengers and 116 crew members derailed near Joplin.
- Eight of the 10 vehicles in the train fell off the tracks.
- The tragic incident happened at the end of Railway Safety Week.
Amtrak was joining federal security officials on Sunday to investigate the Montana train derailment that left at least three people dead and the rural community scrambling to provide food and shelter to the bereaved survivors.
The Westbound Empire Builder train with 1b1 passengers and 1 crew crew derailed near Japlin on Saturday afternoon, a town of less than 200 people just a few miles from the Canadian border. The tragedy happened as Amtrak closed its nationwide, annual Rail Safety Week.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Sender Star Tyler confirmed the death, saying there were also multiple injuries.
Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said eight of the train’s 10 vehicles fell off the tracks, with some of them sitting next to them when the train from Chicago to Seattle stopped.
“The local administration is now confirming that we are deeply saddened to learn that three people have lost their lives in this accident,” Abrams said in a statement. “We have a team on the ground to fully support the NTSB as they look into the cause of the derailment.”
Hill County, Montgomery Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Amanda Frickel told the New York Times that 50 people were injured.
“Every county in the neighborhood is helping,” Tool County Sheriff Donna White told the Times.
Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train, tweeted moments after the crash that she was not injured.
“Everyone on our team is fine. It’s uncertain whether everyone on the train is OK.” He tweeted. “We are currently waiting to move away from the scene.”
Rachel Ghekiar, a Chester County woman, said about 100 passengers were brought to a local school where they were able to clean and get food and water. Many passengers were picked up at the hotel in Shelby, 50 miles west of Joplin.
Governor Greg Gianforte said he is monitoring the investigation.
Gianfort tweeted, “Please join me and pray for the first responders on the ground.”
On the occasion of Rail Safety Week, which runs from September 20 to Sunday, Amtrak announced that about 500 police and sheriff’s departments across 43 states and the District of Columbia are joining its own police department, and that an organization called Operation Lifesaver is conducting “Operation Clear Track.” The purpose of the fifth annual event is to raise awareness of the importance of making “safe choices near railroads and crossings” while enforcing state grade crossing and crossing laws.
Operation Clear Track was created each year to help reduce nearly 2,000 serious injuries and deaths on the country’s railway tracks, Amtrak said.
Contributed by: Associated Press