Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Three people died and five were hospitalized after an Amtrak train derailed along Montana's Hi-Line, the passenger railroad service said.
At approximately 4 p.m. MT Saturday, Empire Builder train 7/27 was westbound from Chicago to Portland, Ore., and Seattle when eight cars derailed while on BNSF tracks near Joplin, Mont., Amtrak said in a news release.
At least one car was completely on its side and several other cars upright or tipped but off the tracks, Amtrak aid.
There were 141 passengers and 16 crew members aboard the train with 10 cars and two locomotives.
Those hospitalized were at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls.
Jacob Cordeiro, a passenger on the train, posted photos and video on his Twitter account.
Another passenger, Megan Vanderves told CNN she had been taking a nap in a sleeper car when the derailment jolted her awake. . "I would describe the experience as kind of extreme turbulence on an airplane but louder, and there was kind of a lot of smoke smell," she said. "The first thought I really had when I woke up was, 'Oh my God we're derailing.
"It was probably 10 or 15 seconds of rocking back and forth and tons of noise, and then we came to a stop. Really we didn't know what was going on for a couple minutes.
People were evacuated within 10 minutes of the incident, she said.
"We kind of thought maybe the car behind us had slightly come off or something like that, but it ended up being much, much worse and a lot more jarring to see when we got off the train," she said. "The car behind ours was slightly off and then the one behind that was kind of in between two sets of railroad tracks, and the one behind that one had like completely tipped over and fallen over and that was kind of the most shocking part."
Witness Jeremiah Johnson told MTN television network "We had to lift a few people out with lots of volunteers and then cut some out. There was one lady in the back whose legs were trapped and was unable to be removed without using a saw (to cut away seats)."
Johnson said there were shoulder, head, and neck injuries. His wife assisted with passengers as they got off the train.
Dozens of people were transported to a nearby high school, including state highway patrol troopers assistance.
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a "go-team" to investigate the derailment.
Empire Builder trains 7/27 and 8/28 originating on Saturday were canceled between Minot, N.D. and Shelby, Mont. On Sunday, westbound Empire Builder train 7 will terminate in Minneapolis and eastbound Empire Builder train 8 will originate in Minneapolis. No substitute transportation is available.
"Experience the rugged splendor of the American West," the Amtrak website says. "Traveling between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest along major portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail, the mighty Empire Builder takes you on an exciting adventure through majestic wilderness, following in the footsteps of early pioneers."