‘Alarming’ winds blow train off tracks over deep New Mexico ravine, cops say

Wild weather has battered communities across the United States this week, and New Mexico is no exception.

State police shared pictures on Wednesday that revealed one jaw-dropping impact of intense winds lashing the state: The gusts contributed to a train derailment near Logan, which left 26 cars in a pile of wreckage at the bottom of a deep ravine, photos show.

“No injuries reported,” police wrote on Twitter.

Photos show that the green and blue cars tumbled into the ravine at a spot where a trestle carried the train tracks over a riverbed. State police said officers on the scene captured the pictures.

Raquel Espinoza, a spokesperson for the railroad company Union Pacific, said the cars that derailed from the tracks over the Canadian River were at the very end of a train that included 73 cars and 2 locomotives, according to the Associated Press.

AP reports that the National Weather Service sent out a high wind warning in the region, which mentioned that weather in the area could result in “one of the strongest wind events in years for West Texas and southeast New Mexico.”

Logan Fire Chief Rex Stall said the derailment was reported at 11 a.m. near Highway 469, and that first responders were called in to help handle the situation, ABC 7 reports. The TV station said gusts in the area reached 70 miles per hour.

Severe damage to the bridge over the ravine shut down rail traffic, and the nearby highway was also closed, ABC 7 reports.

State Sen. Pat Woods, a Republican from Broadview who represents the district where the train went off the tracks, said the derailed cars were empty — but that the incident was a reminder that people “need to take precautions when traveling throughout New Mexico” when weather is severe, KRWG reports.

“Perhaps that might mean changing our travel plans and waiting for the winds to subside,” Woods said, according to KRWG.

KRWG reports that Republicans in the state Senate released a statement on the derailment saying that “high winds are no secret in New Mexico, but winds strong enough to blow a train off its tracks, off a train trestle and down into a deep ravine are alarming.”

Elsewhere in the state, strong winds closed roads, damaged buildings and took down trees — trapping some drivers in their cars, KOAT reports. And on Interstate 25, winds as strong as 80 miles per hour on Wednesday blew over semi-trucks and RVs, KQRE reports.

A tornado touched down in New Mexico as well on Tuesday night, destroying homes and injuring people and livestock, according to AP.

New Mexico State Police said a train derailed near Logan in part because of intense winds, just as the train crossed a trestle over a deep ravine and dry riverbed. Photos taken by police show more than 20 Union Pacific train cars in a pile of wreckage.

Story by Jared Gilmour for thenewstribune.com

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