By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

JOPLIN, Mont. (CBS/AP) — At least three people were killed, and multiple others were injured, when an Amtrak train headed from Seattle to Chicago crashed in Montana.

Photos from the scene showed several cars tipped over on their sides. Carrie Schoeffling, a passenger who was riding in the fourth car, told CBS News that the car she was traveling in derailed, but did not tip over. Schoeffling said that she heard a boom, after which the carriage began “pitching violently side to side” before derailing.

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There are at least three confirmed fatalities, according to the Liberty County Sheriff.

The Empire Builder train derailed at 4 p.m. near Joplin, a town of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement. The accident scene is about 150 miles (241 kilometers) north of Helena and about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the border with Canada.

The train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew members onboard, Abrams said.

Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train who was going to visit a friend in Seattle, told The New York Times that she was awakened by the derailment.

“My first thought was that we were derailing because, to be honest, I have anxiety and I had heard stories about trains derailing,” said Vandervest, who is from Minneapolis. “My second thought was that’s crazy. We wouldn’t be derailing. Like, that doesn’t happen.”

She told the Times that the car behind hers was tilted over, the one behind that was entirely tipped over, and the three cars behind that “had completely fallen off the tracks and were detached from the train.”

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Speaking from the Liberty County Senior Center, where passengers were being taken, Vandervest said it felt like “extreme turbulence on a plane.”

Amtrak was working with the local authorities to transport injured passengers and safely evacuate all other passengers, Abrams added.

Many of the passengers were taken to nearby Chester High School in Chester, Montana.

“There are a lot of people in the little town with nowhere to go,” Schoeffling said.

Photos posted to social media showed several cars on their sides. Passengers were standing alongside the tracks, some carrying luggage.

The images showed sunny skies, and it appeared the accident occurred along a straight section of tracks.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBS 2 Chicago Staff