National Transportation Safety Board sends team to Montana to investigate fatal Amtrak derailment
Three people died late Saturday afternoon when Amtrak’s Empire Builder rolled off the tracks near Joplin, MT. The Empire Builder offers daily connections from Chicago to Seattle, with stops in Minnesota and North Dakota including St. Paul, St. Cloud, Staples, Detroit Lakes, Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, Stanley and Williston.
It is not known whether passengers from North Dakota or Minnesota were among the dead or injured.
The NTSB, via its Twitter feed, said on Saturday night that it was “launching a team to investigate Saturday’s derailment” and that the team will be based in Great Falls, Mt.
At around 5 p.m. Saturday, the westbound train left the tracks in rural north-central Montana, near the small town of Joplin and about 150 miles north of Helena, MT. The Billings (Mont.) Gazette reported on Sunday that passengers were taken to nearby towns, including Chester and Shelby.
In a statement, Amtrak said there were around 141 passengers and 17 crew on the train at the time. The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, eight of which derailed.
At least three people died and there were multiple injuries. Some passengers were trapped aboard the train in the aftermath, but were removed on Saturday evening, according to a Reuters news service report.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that local authorities now confirm that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident. Injuries have also been reported among passengers and crew traveling on the train, ”Amtrak wrote in a statement posted on its website. “Amtrak is working with local authorities to transport injured people to medical attention and to safely evacuate everyone else at the scene. Our Incident Response Team has been launched and we are sending emergency personnel and Amtrak leaders to the scene to help our passengers, employees and their families meet their needs. Those with questions about their friends and family aboard this train should call 800-523-9101. “
Amtrak also provided details of the schedule changes due to the crash.
Specifically, Amtrak announced that “the Empire Builder 7/27 westbound train, which left Chicago on September 25, is canceled between Minot, North Dakota, and Shelby, Montana. The Empire Builder 8 eastbound train, which left Seattle on September 25, and the Empire Builder 28 train, which left Portland on September 25, are also canceled between Shelby and Minot.
“Empire Builder 7/27 westbound trains scheduled to leave Chicago between September 26 and 28 will end in St. Paul-Minneapolis. The 8 Empire Builder eastbound train, scheduled to leave Seattle September 26-28, will not run between Seattle and St. Paul-Minneapolis. The Empire Builder 28 train, departing Portland between September 26 and September 28, will not run between Portland and St. Paul-Minneapolis. No alternative means of transportation is currently available. Amtrak customers can contact us at 800-872-7245 for additional information on service status.