United States: at least three dead in train derailment

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At least three people were killed and more than fifty others injured in a train derailment on Saturday in the US state of Montana, rescuers dispatched to the scene busy evacuating passengers and crew.

Eight of the ten cars on the Amtrak public railroad train derailed near Joplin, a small town near the border with Canada. Approximately 141 passengers and 09 crew members were on board this train which linked Chicago to Seattle.

The causes of the accident were not clear at first. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a federal agency, announced on Twitter that it had opened an investigation. Video footage posted to social media and disseminated by local media showed people waiting near the tracks, luggage strewn beside them, looking at derailed cars, at least one of which overturned on its side.

Chronic underfunding

The coordinator of disaster and emergency services Montana emergency response, Amanda Frickel, said rescue teams were on site and several hospitals – as well as medical helicopters – were on standby. “All the people alive were taken from the carcass” of the train, she added.

The American rail network suffers from chronic underfunding and fatal accidents occur there regularly. In February 2018, two people were killed and 45 collision between two trains, one carrying 141 people and the other goods, in South Carolina (southeast). In December 2017, three people were killed in a derailment in the state of Washington (northwest), which knocked several cars off a bridge on a highway. But the worst rail disaster in fifty years was in October 1972, when two commuter trains collided in Chicago, causing 45 dead and more than 147 injured.

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