At Least 50 Hurt in Amtrak Derailment in Montana, Official Says

At least 50 people were injured after an Amtrak train derailed in Montana on Saturday afternoon, setting off a frantic response by rescuers who scrambled to extricate passengers from cars, an official said.

The official, Amanda Frickel, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, Mont., said in an interview that more than one person had been killed, but that the authorities were not yet releasing any more details.

She said “well over” 50 people had been injured.

Ms. Frickel said the train, which was headed west, derailed just outside Joplin, Mont., which is about 200 miles north of Helena.

She said rescuers from six counties were responding to the scene and that as many as five hospitals were on standby to receive injured passengers. There were also a number of medical helicopters standing by, she said.

“Every county around is assisting,” said Sheriff Donna Whitt of Toole County, Mont.

Officials had evacuated survivors to two separate sites and were doing a head count.

“Everybody who is alive has been extricated from the wreck,” Ms. Frickel said.

Amtrak said that five cars on an Empire Builder train had derailed at roughly 4 p.m. About 147 passengers and 13 crew members had been onboard, “with injuries reported,” Amtrak said in a statement.

“Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers, and safely evacuate all other passengers,” the statement said. “Additional details will be provided as available.”

Megan Vandervest, who was going to visit a friend in Seattle, boarded the train on Friday night from Minneapolis, where she lives.

On Saturday afternoon, she was asleep in the first car when she was jolted awake.

“My first thought was that we were derailing because, to be honest, I have anxiety and I had heard stories about trains derailing,” Ms. Vandervest said. “My second thought was that’s crazy. We wouldn’t be derailing. Like, that doesn’t happen.”

She soon figured it out. The car she was in was fully on the tracks.

But the car behind hers was tilted over, the one behind that was entirely tipped over, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train,” she said.

Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where passengers were being taken, Ms. Vandervest said she felt lucky that she and the three other people she was with were not injured.

In her car, she said, it felt like “extreme turbulence on a plane.”

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