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THE NATION

Avalanches Derail 15 Train Cars

January 29, 2004|From Associated Press

ESSEX, Mont. — Avalanches crashed into a freight train Wednesday, knocking 15 cars off the rails and shutting the tracks, which are also used by Amtrak.

No one was injured, and the derailed grain cars were empty, said Gus Melonas, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway spokesman. "The slides occurred due to extremely heavy snowfall," he said. "We've had 60 inches of snow in the area."

The first avalanche knocked seven cars off the track near the southern edge of Glacier National Park, Melonas said. Another slide about 15 minutes later knocked an additional eight cars off the track.

Amtrak's Empire Builder passenger train, which uses the same tracks on its route between Chicago and Seattle, was suspended Wednesday, Melonas said. Passenger service is stopped at least until Friday, he said, though freight trains could resume today.

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