Emergency services face an “extremely difficult” struggle, amid localised flooding, to access the site where a passenger train has derailed in Aberdeenshire, according to one local resident.
Police, firefighters and ambulances were called to the scene just west of Stonehaven at around 9:45am today, when a six-car Inter7City passenger train from Aberdeen was hit by a landslide.
At least one person has died in the crash, and there are fears of further fatalities.
It is understood that the train was reversing when it was derailed, having encountered an earlier landslide blocking its path forward.
Dozens of emergency vehicles are at the scene, and police have set up a perimeter, about a mile wide, around the crash site.
But the rail line, which runs along one of the steep sides of the valley through a thick wooded area with a river below, is not easy for them to access on foot.
Instead, a rescue helicopter could be seen hovering just above the tree line near the location of the derailed carriages - lowering stretchers to the emergency workers below.
Soon after the incident, I spoke to a local resident, who did not want to be named, who had spent his time on the roadside helping emergency workers find the site of the crash.
“It’s an extremely difficult site to get to,” he explained, “Flooding has made it really hard to reach.”
As we spoke, he flagged down a passing police van and warned them that the river at the base of the valley had burst its banks, blocking the way ahead.
He gave them directions to the other side of the valley, where many of the response vehicles had gathered.
It meant fire engines and ambulances were forced to snake their way along tiny country lanes, taking the long route around the valley to the crash site to avoid the treacherous river.
Despite the sunshine, it is impossible not to notice how soft the ground is underfoot after massive thunderstorms overnight.
While it may be too early to say for certain that heavy rainfall contributed to the crash, it has undoubtedly become a factor in the recovery operation.
I suspect it has made already difficult terrain ten times more so for emergency workers, who now have to trudge back and forth through sodden fields, making the effort just to access the site nothing short of herculean.
The emergency services effort is ongoing.
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