At least three people died Saturday and some passengers were injured after seven cars on an Amtrak train derailed in north-central Montana, an official with the local sheriff’s office said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday night that it will investigate the incident.
People caught on board shortly after the derailment have been removed from the train, said the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Empire Builder train derailed at 4 p.m. near Joplin, a city of about 200 people, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement.
The scene of the accident is about 150 miles (241 kilometers) north of Helena and about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the Canadian border.
The train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew members on board, Abrams said.
Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train visiting a friend in Seattle, told The New York Times that the derailment woke her up.
“My first thought was that we were derailing because, to be honest, I have anxiety and had heard stories about derailed trains,” said Vandervest, who is from Minneapolis. “My second thought was that this is crazy. We would not be derailing. Like that doesn’t happen. “
She told the Times that the car behind hers was tilted, the one behind it was completely overturned, and the three cars behind it “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train.”
Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where passengers were being taken, Vandervest said it felt like “extreme turbulence on an airplane.”
Amtrak was working with local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers, Abrams added.
Photos posted on social media showed several cars on the sides. The passengers were standing by the tracks, some with luggage.
The images showed sunny skies and it appeared that the accident occurred along a straight section of tracks.