HELENA – Update 8:00 p.m .: CBS News reports that the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed three victims associated with the Amtrak train derailment. MTN has contacted the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office but has yet to receive an official response.
UPDATE: 7:20 p.m. Amtrak has confirmed the derailment near Joplin.
Public Relations Director Jason Abrams released the following statement:
At approximately 4:00 p.m. MT, the Empire Builder 7/27 train derailed near Joplin, MT. There are around 146 passengers and 16 crew on board, with reported injuries. Those with questions about their friends and family aboard this train should call 800-523-9101.
The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, seven of which derailed. Amtrak is working with local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers.
As a result of the derailment, Empire Builder trains 7/27 and 8/28 departing Sat September 25 are canceled between Minot, ND (MOT) and Shelby, MT (SBY). Additionally, on Sunday, September 26, the Empire Builder 7 westbound train will end in Minneapolis, MN (MSP) and the Empire Builder 8 eastbound train will depart from Minneapolis, MN (MSP). No alternative means of transportation is available. Amtrak customers can contact us at 800-872-7245 for additional information on service status.
Amtrak will provide additional details as they become available.
FIRST REPORT: An Amtrak passenger train derailed in Liberty County on Saturday afternoon.
The first reports of the derailment arrived just after 4:00 p.m.
The train would have been just west of Joplin when it derailed.
Images shared on social media showed at least one car completely on its side and several other cars straight or tilted but off the rails.
A witness described helping passengers exit derailed cars.
Jeremiah Johnson told MTN’s Colter Anstaett that ladders were used to free people and some had to be cut.
“We had to take a few people out with a lot of volunteers and then cut some up … There was a lady in the back whose legs were stuck and couldn’t be pulled out without using a saw (to cut the seats.), Johnson said.
Johnson described seeing injuries to his shoulder, head and neck.
There are reports of passengers being transported by bus to Chester High School or Chester Senior Center for a staging. Authorities did not confirm any deaths to MTN as of 6:45 p.m. Saturday evening.
He added that his wife was helping passengers get off the train.
“Right now, she’s helping out there, and then sort of checking people’s vital signs as they come in. I took her to the hospital. They had a lot of help there, so we went to high school and she started helping people get off the wounds, names and documentation of any medication they can take. “
Johnson estimated there were dozens of people in high school.
MTN has a reporter on site and will let you know when more details are available.
The Amtrak passenger line that runs along the Montana Hi-Line is known as the Empire Builder. It operates between Chicago and Seattle / Portland.
* UPDATE 09/25/2021 7:10 PM This story has been updated to include testimonials of people being released from the derailed train.
* UPDATE 09/25/2021 9:09 PM This story has been updated to include an expanded statement from Amtrak