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Amtrak derailment in Montana: Investigators probe fatal accident

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  • The westbound Empire Builder prepare with 141 passengers and 16 crew members derailed close to Joplin.
  • Eight of the prepare’s 10 vehicles toppled off the tracks.
  • The tragedy occurred on the finish of Rail Security Week.

Amtrak joined federal security officers Sunday to research a Montana prepare derailment that left at the least three folks lifeless, seven folks hospitalized and rural communities scrambling to supply meals and shelter to the surprised survivors.

The westbound Empire Builder prepare with 141 passengers and 17 crew members derailed Saturday afternoon close to Joplin, a city of lower than 200 folks just a few miles from the Canadian border in Liberty County. The tragedy occurred as Amtrak was closing out its nationwide, annual Rail Security Week. 

“The NTSB is launching a go-team to research Saturday’s derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder prepare,” the Nationwide Transportation Security Board mentioned on Twitter, including that the crew could be based mostly in Nice Falls, Montana.

The 14-member crew contains investigators and specialists in railroad alerts, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss mentioned. He mentioned the derailment concerned no different trains or tools. The prepare included 10 railroad vehicles and two locomotives, he mentioned.

Amtrak CEO Invoice Flynn expressed condolences to the victims and mentioned the corporate is working with the NTSB, Federal Railroad Administration and native regulation enforcement, sharing their “sense of urgency” to find out what occurred.

“Nonetheless, till the investigation is full, we won’t remark additional on the accident itself,” Flynn mentioned within the assertion. “The NTSB will determine the trigger or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking applicable actions to stop an identical accident sooner or later.”

Aerial views of the Seattle-bound prepare from Chicago confirmed at the least seven derailed vehicles, three of them mendacity on their sides.

People work at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment on Sept. 25 in north-central Montana.

“We’re deeply saddened to be taught native authorities are actually confirming that three folks have misplaced their lives because of this accident,” Amtrak mentioned in an announcement. “We now have a crew on the bottom to completely help the NTSB as they examine the reason for the derailment.”

Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the prepare, tweeted within the moments after the wreck that she was not injured.

“Everybody in our celebration is okay. Not sure (of) the standing of everybody on the prepare,” she said on Twitter. “We’re presently ready to be bussed away from the scene.”

She thanked everybody who reached out with form phrases, saying, “We really feel very fortunate to be alive.”

Residents of communities close to the crash web site rapidly mobilized to assist.

Chester Councilwoman Rachel Ghekiere mentioned she and others helped about 50 to 60 passengers who have been introduced to a faculty.

“I went to the varsity and assisted with water, meals, wiping filth off faces,” she mentioned. “They gave the impression to be drained, shaken however blissful that they have been the place they have been. Some regarded extra raveled than others, relying the place they have been on the prepare.”

Jesse Anderson, who owns the motel and adjoining comfort retailer, talked to a few passengers on the doomed prepare, passengers who are actually leery of ever touring by rail once more.

“One couple mentioned they have been experiencing a really tough journey,” Anderson mentioned, including that the Michigan couple travels Amtrak a few instances a yr to see their son in Seattle, the prepare’s closing vacation spot. 

“They have been noticing that it wasn’t a really easy journey.”

To mark Rail Security Week, which ran from Sept. 20 till Sunday, Amtrak had introduced that just about 500 police and sheriff’s departments throughout 43 states and the District of Columbia have been becoming a member of its personal Police Division and a corporation referred to as Operation Lifesaver to conduct “Operation Clear Monitor.”

The fifth annual occasion aimed toward imposing state grade crossing and trespassing legal guidelines whereas elevating consciousness on the significance of creating “protected selections close to railroad tracks and crossings.” Operation Clear Monitor was created to assist scale back the roughly 2,000 severe accidents and deaths that happen annually on the nation’s railroad tracks, Amtrak mentioned.

Contributing: Lee Vernoy, Nice Falls Tribune; The Related Press

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