Three people are confirmed to have died after a train derailment on the Dundee to Aberdeen line, near Stonehaven.
A multi-agency response was launched at 9.43am after four passenger carriages of the 6.38am ScotRail high speed service between Aberdeen – Glasgow Queen Street came off the track.
The train’s driver and conductor are among the dead and six other people have been taken to hospital for treatment following the incident, which took place in the Carmont area.
The British Transport Police has confirmed that officers remain on the scene alongside the ambulance service, fire service and Police Scotland.
Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie said: “This is a tragic incident and first and foremost our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have very sadly died this morning.
“We remain on scene alongside our emergency service colleagues, and a major incident operation has been under way.
“I would like to reassure the public that this was not a busy service, and from CCTV inquiries and witness statements we believe all passengers have been accounted for.
“However, once the area has been made safe then a full and thorough search will be conducted, which is likely to take some time.
“I know many people will understandably have questions, and the investigation will be directed by the COPFS.
“We will be working closely with them, alongside the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road to establish the full circumstances of how the train came to derail.”
Rail industry sources told the PA news agency that the suspected cause of the incident was a landslip.
However, the TSSA union said there was no indication as yet as to what may have caused the derailment.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has launched a probe into the cause of the derailment and a team of inspectors have been sent to the scene.
Professor Amanda Croft, chief executive of NHS Grampian and Professor Lynda Lynch, chair of NHS Grampian said: “Following today’s serious incident all of our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured or affected by events.
“Right now NHS Grampian’s top priority is to ensure those injured are given the best possible care and attention at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“Our thanks go to the emergency department and other teams at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who were able to respond to the major incident quickly, effectively and professionally – as they do at all times.
“Further information will become available ahead. In the meantime, we ask you to respect the privacy of those involved, in what will be a worrying and distressing time for many, and allow the emergency services to focus efforts on the task at hand.”
The first minister tweeted saying her “deepest condolences” were with the loved ones of those who had died.
One image shared on Twitter showed around 40 emergency service vehicles parked in a field with smoke from the scene billowing in the background.
The Coastguard also confirmed that volunteer teams from Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Montrose and Cruden Bay were called to the scene.
An air ambulance landed in a field near to the incident.
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokeswoman previously said: “We currently have multiple resources in attendance at a train derailment near Stonehaven, including six ambulances, our Special Operations Response teams, air ambulance, patient transport vehicles and the SCOTSTAR emergency service.”
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.”
Smoke could be seen coming from the area this morning, with the line completely closed between Aberdeen and Dundee.
A reader from Marykirk told the Tele the smoke was visible from her home – almost 20 miles away.
We're currently responding to an incident on the line in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where a train has derailed.
Officers were called to the scene at 9.43am and remain there alongside paramedics and the fire brigade.
All further updates will be shared here.
— British Transport Police (@BTP) August 12, 2020
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “My thoughts are with everyone involved in the serious incident in Aberdeenshire.
“Thank you to all the emergency services.”
My thoughts are with everyone involved in the serious incident in Aberdeenshire.
Thank you to all the emergency services. https://t.co/Of6uNIH3Bs
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) August 12, 2020
The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) said there was no immediate need for people to donate blood in the wake of the crash.
Following on from the announcement of the major incident in Stonehaven, we'd like to reassure all blood donors that:
Hospitals in Scotland are well supplied with blood and there is no immediate need for blood donors to come forward.
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— SNBTS-Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (@givebloodscot) August 12, 2020