Three people were killed and others were injured when a passenger train travelling from Los Angeles to Chicago struck a dump truck and derailed in a remote, rural area of Missouri on Monday, officials said.
Two of the people who died were on the train and one was in the truck, Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesperson Cpl. Justin Dunn said. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were hurt, the patrol said, but hospitals reported receiving more than 40 patients from the crash and were expecting more.
The Southwest Chief was carrying 243 passengers and 12 crew members when the collision happened near Mendon at 12:42 p.m. CT, Amtrak said.
The collision occurred at a rural intersection on a gravel road with no crossing arms, Dunn said. The Highway Patrol said seven cars derailed.
“It’s too early to speculate on why the truck was on the tracks,” said Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A team of NTSB investigators will arrive Tuesday, she said. Trains won’t run be able to run on the track for “a matter of days” while they gather evidence, she added.
Passengers included students, boy scouts
At one point, helicopter video shown by KMBC-TV in Kansas City from the scene showed rail cars on their side as emergency responders used ladders to climb into one of them. The video also showed six medical helicopters parked nearby waiting to transport patients.
Nearly 20 local and state law enforcement agencies, ambulance services, fire department and medical hospital services responded, Dunn said.
Passengers on the train included 16 youths and eight adults from two Boy Scout troops who were travelling home to Appleton, Wisc., after a backcountry excursion in New Mexico, but no one in the group was seriously injured, said Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts administered first aid to several injured passengers, including the driver of the dump truck, Armstrong said.
High school students from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton, Kan., who were headed to a Future Business Leaders of America conference in Chicago, were also aboard, Superintendent Tim Beying told The Star.
It was the second Amtrak collision in as many days. Three people were killed Sunday afternoon when an Amtrak commuter train smashed into a car in Northern California, authorities said.
The Southwest Chief takes about two days to travel from Los Angeles to Chicago. Mendon, with a population of about 160, is about 135 kilometres northeast of Kansas City.