Train derailment puts planes in water

The sight is proving popular with river rafters. Photo / Brock Sarbeck
The sight is proving popular with river rafters. Photo / Brock Sarbeck

Three airplane fuselages that slid down a steep embankment into a river following a train derailment in northern Montana state could take another two days to remove, railroad officials said.

"The progress is going extremely slow," Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost said. "If we get one up today, it would appear it will take one day each to get them out."

She said a crew of 50 with eight heavy-equipment machines was working together to hoist up the three Boeing 737 fuselages, the large, central portions of planes that hold passengers.

Six fuselages were aboard a westbound train when 19 cars derailed on Thursday local time, sending the three fuselages into the Clark Fork River. The three remaining plane sections also fell off but stayed on land. No one was injured in the derailment, which is under investigation.

Boeing said in a statement that it has experts at the scene to assess the damage. Marc Birtel, director of media relations, said Sunday that he didn't have information on what the experts have decided.

The fuselages were traveling from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, to a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, to be assembled into airliners.

Meanwhile, rafters on the popular Clark Fork River have a surreal view as they pass the fuselages near a river feature called Mermaid Rock.

"They really get to see the enormous size of those aircraft," said John Flanagan of Wiley E. Waters, a rafting company. "It's not something you expect to float past when you're on a river trip."

-AP

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