At least three people have died and six others have been injured after a train came off its tracks in Scotland.
The train’s driver was among those killed when the front locomotive and three of its four carriages derailed and slid down an embankment at Carmont, near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.
Rescuers searched for survivors in the overturned carriages, some piled on top of each other following a night of thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Local media The Scotsman is reporting it’s believed the Inter7City train from Aberdeen to Glasgow had turned back after encountering a landslide, only to hit another one.
“It was returning north, initially on the southbound line, then on the northbound having crossed at Carmont,” Rail journalist Phil Haigh tweeted.
“It then hit a second landslip and derailed as it was returning to Stonehaven.”
The driver was the first person confirmed dead. The death toll rose by two on Thursday morning (Australian time).
Authorities said they were confident all remaining passengers had been accounted for, and that the injuries to six people taken to hospital were not life-threatening.
“My deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident,” said Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
— Chris Harvey (@ChristopherHarv) August 12, 2020
“This is an extremely serious incident,” Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
“Although details are still emerging I am afraid to say there are early reports of serious injuries.
“All my thoughts are with those involved.”
A photograph on Twitter showed an air ambulance in a field near the scene where smoke was billowing from a woodland area, alongside about 25 police vehicles and ambulances.
Local reports said there had been flooding in the area after thunderstorms and heavy rain overnight.
Stonehaven and the surrounding area had been hit by floods in recent days and some reports suggested a landslide may have played a part in the derailment.
British Transport Police said its officers had been called to the scene of the derailment at 9.43am.
The Scotsman reports that the incident occurred after the 6.38am Inter7City train from Aberdeen had turned back after encountering a landslide, only to be derailed by another.
— Network Rail (@networkrail) August 12, 2020
It is not known how many people were on the train.
The UK’s last fatal derailment was in 2007, when a passenger died on a Glasgow-bound Virgin Trains express train in Cumbria.
Britain has one of Europe’s lowest rates of fatal rail accidents, with a stronger safety record than Germany or France in recent years, according to Eurostat data that includes unauthorised people on railway tracks and at level crossings.
The worst rail disasters in Britain in recent decades were a 1999 collision between two trains at Ladbroke Grove, in London, in which 31 people died, and a 2001 accident near Selby in Yorkshire, northeast England, in which 10 people died after a car ran onto the track and was hit by two trains.