Tim Pederson  /  Williston Herald
Kernels of corn are spread across the ditches after a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed Aug. 10.
updated 8/10/2004 4:26:59 PM ET 2004-08-10T20:26:59

A train full of corn derailed in northwestern North Dakota, spilling its cargo, damaging the tracks and disrupting Amtrak service between Chicago and Seattle.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas said 31 of the 110 cars jumped the tracks Tuesday morning on the outskirts of Williston. No one was injured, he said. The train was en route from Clarkfield, Minn., to Seattle.

The cause of the wreck and the exact amount of corn that spilled were not immediately known, Melonas said. Each car carried 110 tons of corn. Twenty-five cars spilled “up to half their loads, maybe more,” Melonas said.

The tracks, which are used by Amtrak’s Empire Builder, were blocked by debris from the wreck, Melonas said. Some sections of track will have to be replaced.

“It’s a mess,” Williams County Sheriff Scott Busching said. “The cars are pretty roughed up. It looks fairly spectacular.”

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago, said passengers would be bused 385 miles between Minot, N.D., and Havre, Mont., until the tracks reopen.

Melonas said both lines should be open again by early Wednesday. Crews began moving the damaged cars off the tracks Tuesday afternoon.

The derailment came just 10 days after a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train went off the tracks near Hillsboro in eastern North Dakota, spilling processed sugar. Melonas said the cause of that wreck had not yet been determined.

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