LONDON - A passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland after stormy weather, killing three people and injuring six others Wednesday, authorities said.
The train’s driver is believed to be among the dead, but formal identification has yet to take place, the British Transport Police force said. Six people were hospitalized.
“Very sadly, despite the best efforts of paramedics, we can confirm that three people have been pronounced dead at the scene,’’ transport police said in a statement.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the derailment as a “major″ incident and said she would be convening an emergency response meeting. Police, several ambulances, an air ambulance and fire engines were at the scene about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Edinburgh.
The British Transport Police force said officers were called at 9:43 a.m. (0843GMT) to a railroad line near the coastal town of Stonehaven, which is on the line for trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The hilly area was hit by storms and flash flooding overnight.
Local lawmaker Andrew Bowie had been in Stonehaven surveying flood damage earlier Wednesday.
“The situation was really bad this morning. The River Carron, the main river which flows through it, had burst its banks, and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the center of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it,″ he said.
Bowie added that the water had receded and it was unclear if flooding was connected to the derailment.
“I don’t think speculation is helpful at this stage,″ he said. “We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we have suffered terrible weather here.”
Serious train accidents are rare in the U.K. The country’s last fatal derailment was in 2007.
The head of Network Rail cut short a family vacation to return to the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene.”