An Amtrak train carrying 378 passengers and crew from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest derailed in northeastern Montana Friday, injuring more than 150 people, officials said.
Amtrak officials in Washington, D.C., said seven of the nine passenger cars overturned when the train, dubbed the Empire Builder, derailed at 3:15 p.m. MDT, 35 miles south of the Canadian border.One passenger, Fred Whisenand, 59, of Williston, N.D., said he was riding in a car that plowed off the tracks and toppled onto its side.
"I was taking a little nap - sort of half-dozing - when I felt the train break rapidly several times," he said. "You could feel it wheeling over the railroad ties. The dirt was flying up alongside the windows and then it went over."
The train carried 361 passengers and 17 crew members, Amtrak spokesman Bruce Heard said.
In all, 137 people "have asked to be examined," and nine were admitted to various hospitals, but the condition of those hospitalized and the extent of their injuries was not known, Heard said.
Hospital officials reported that a total of 158 people were injured and that eight had been admitted.
An administrative spokeswoman for Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow, the largest town east of the accident site, said 125 people brought in with various injuries suffered in the accident had been examined.
The spokeswoman, Patsy Krause, said three were admitted there and two others were airlifted to other hospitals. The conditions of those admitted were not immediately available.
Susanne Goertz, a staff nurse at Phillips County Hospital in Malta, the largest town west of the derailment, said 33 people suffering injuries that ranged from cuts and bruises to broken bones were examined there and that three were admitted for observation. Three others were transported to another hospital, she said.
"There is speculation coming from the accident site that heat may have caused a sun-kink in the rails and derailed the cars," said Howard Kallio, a spokesman in Seattle for Burlington-Northern, which owns the tracks.
The authorized speed limit for the train in the area where the accident occurred was 79 mph, and the train