Three people have died and six others rushed to hospital after a train derailed near Stonehaven.
Dozens of emergency service vehicles, including an air ambulance, went to the scene near Stonehaven where the ScotRail train crashed at about 9.40am.
It is understood the locomotive and three carriages derailed and slid down an embankment.
Now, British Transport Police (BTP) have confirmed that three people died at the scene.
My deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.
I have just been updated by Network Rail and the emergency services on the ongoing operation. My thanks go to them, and my thoughts remain with everyone affected. https://t.co/L73rZTeRFu
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 12, 2020
Officers remain near the tracks this afternoon alongside the ambulance service, fire brigade and colleagues from Police Scotland.
While formal identification is yet to take place, the driver of the train is believed to have died.
His family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained family liaison officers.
Six people have been taken to hospital to be treated for injuries.
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 underway. I would like to reassure the public that this was not a busy service, and from CCTV enquiries 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 we will be working closely 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.”
A major incident has been declared at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with staff “pre-alerted” for incoming patients.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, on Twitter, has said: “My deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.
“I have just been updated by Network Rail and the emergency services on the ongoing operation.
“My thanks go to them, and my thoughts remain with everyone affected.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected.”
Around 30 emergency service vehicles were on the scene overall.
Councillor Wendy Agnew added it was a “tragedy” for the people of Stonehaven.
She said: “It is truly awful news and my thoughts go out to the family of the those affected. The emergency services have been working extremely hard.”
Meanwhile Kevin Lindsay, trade union ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: ‘Our thoughts tonight are with all those who died, and who were injured, in the tragic accident at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.
“While it is too early to speculate about the causes of the crash, it would seem that the appalling weather conditions in the area – the torrential rain – resulted in a landslip which, in turn, caused the train to derail.
“The train, which was a service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street, rolled down a steep embankment, and caught fire.
“Despite the best efforts of the driver, and crew, and the subsequent efforts of the emergency services who attended, we understand that three people died and several more have been taken to hospital.
“Our thoughts tonight are with these men and women and their families.”
Mr Lindsay added: “I have been touched by the messages of condolence and support I have received rom railwaymen and women, not just elsewhere in the UK, but right across the world. The railway family comes together at a time like this.”
Today families of those affected are gathering at Fetteresso Church to receive news and support in the wake of the incident.
Councillor Sarah Dickinson said it was a “terrible day for Stonehaven” as horrific floods were followed by the news of the derailment.
She said: “My thoughts go out to everyone affected today. I thank the emergency services for all their work already, and hope they can get access to reach those in need.
“It’s an overgrown part of the line and not easy to get to.
Thinking of all those caught up in the terrible incident at Stonehaven. Thank you to our emergency services for stepping up once again. 🙏
— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) August 12, 2020
“I was in the town this morning speaking to businesses affected by the flooding and then heard the news about the train – it is a terrible day for Stonehaven.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives and those who were injured in this tragic rail incident near Stonehaven this morning.
“I would like to thank all the engineers and emergency services who are responding to this incident and the challenging conditions they are dealing with at this time.”
In Aberdeen, Midstocket Church was transformed into a hub for family and friends of those affected.
North East MSP Liam Kerr said: “I’m absolutely shocked to hear about this frightening incident which has resulted in passengers being injured.
“The north-east has faced extreme weather conditions and it’s paramount checks are made to the track to ensure it is safe for rail travel to commence.
We are working alongside the emergency services to respond to an incident involving a train near Stonehaven. It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known.
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) August 12, 2020
“My thoughts go to the passengers and staff on board the train who have been affected by this harrowing incident.
“A full investigation must also be carried out by ScotRail to identify why this derailing has happened.”
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
A ScotRail spokesman added: “We’re assisting the emergency services with an incident near Stonehaven, and will provide more information when available.”
Kevin Lindsay, train driver trade union ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: ‘We are aware that this is an extremely serious incident and our thoughts are with everyone involved.”
The RMT union’s Mick Lynch added: “The facts behind this incident will need to be established in due course, but at this stage we are focused on support and assistance and our thoughts are with all those impacted by this tragedy.”