ScotRail has confirmed the train’s driver, conductor and a passenger died when the service came off the tracks on Wednesday.
Three people have died and six others have been taken to hospital after a train derailed in Aberdeenshire.
Aerial shots appear to show one carriage completely overturned after the service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street came off the tracks near Stonehaven earlier.
ScotRail has confirmed the three who died were the driver, the conductor and a passenger.
The operator added in a Twitter statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of those who have lost loved ones.”
Rail industry sources told PA news agency that the suspected cause of the incident was a landslip.
Six people have been taken to hospital with injuries which are not believed to be serious.
The Queen has sent a message of condolence and said “it was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment earlier today in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire”.
The post on the Royal Family’s official Twitter account continued: “The Duke of Edinburgh, and the entire Royal Family, join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have died and those who have been injured.
“Our thanks go out to the emergency services for their response and dedication.”
The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the Lord-Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, following the train crash near Stonehaven. pic.twitter.com/IIfOpjOBFH
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) August 12, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the derailment.
Mr Johnson told reporters: “Clearly the most important thing now is that the British Transport Police, who are in charge of the investigation, find out exactly what happened and that we all work together with Network Rail, with everyone else who is responsible, to make sure we get to the bottom of this and that nothing like this happens again.”
He added: “I do think it’s a very good idea to look at the effect of substantial rainfall on all our vulnerable infrastructure everywhere.
“As I understand there was about a months worth of rainfall in a short period, which undoubtedly aggravated the problem there.”
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
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.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 12, 2020
Ms Sturgeon had earlier tweeted after the deaths were confirmed: “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.”
Ross Moran, head of operations delivery for Network Rail, said: “We really need to take the time to understand exactly what caused this event.
“The railway is an exceptionally safe mode of travel, but we just need to take the time to understand why this has happened.”
Footage posted on social media showed smoke billowing above trees surrounding the railway line.
A number of ambulances and emergency helicopters were pictured parked in a nearby field.
The Scottish Ambulance Service said they had deployed six ambulances, special operations response teams, an air ambulance, and patient transport vehicles.
Scottish Fire and Rescue crews were also in attendance, while coastguard teams were sent from nearby locations, along with a coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick.
Thunderstorms had caused flooding across Aberdeenshire on Wednesday, prompting the cancellation of some rail services and the shutting of a number of schools.
At 9.49am on Wednesday, Network Rail Scotland posted a video of a landslip and flooding on rail tracks at Carmont.
Smoke rising from the scene of the derailment suggested it occurred near to a bend in the tracks close to Carmont.
“At Carmont, we’ve had reports of a landslip, which means services can’t operate between Dundee & Aberdeen,” Network Rail Scotland had posted on Twitter.
It is unclear whether the landslip was directly related to the incident.
Commenting on the suspected reasons of the crash, Nigel Harris, the editor of Rail magazine, told Sky News: “Somewhere south of Stonehaven the driver – the weather was apparently appalling – he encountered an obstruction, a landslide, on the track and had to reverse his train and go back along the way he’d come.
“And then go onto his own line and head back north towards Aberdeen, at which point he ran into another landslide which had clearly happened after he had passed by in a southerly direction.
“That then caused this terrible incident.”
At Carmont, we’ve had reports of a landslip, which means services can’t operate between Dundee & Aberdeen. /2 pic.twitter.com/1E29tKHFhy
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) August 12, 2020
Local journalist Lewis Michie, speaking to Sky News from the scene shortly before 1pm, said there were “still a lot of emergency services arriving” at that time.
He described how the area could only be reached by a “very, very narrow” road, while the train line running through the area had “very, very steep” embankments.
“The issue here at the moment, it seems to me, is that this is possibly the most inaccessible area this could have happened,” he said.
He added: “This morning it was probably the worst flooding I have seen in the northeast for a long, long time.”
Andrew Bowie, the Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said he had spoken by telephone to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The MP, who said a major incident had been declared at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, had been in Stonehaven surveying flood damage earlier on Wednesday.
Mr Bowie told Sky News: “We had torrential rain in this part of the world last night.
“Stonehaven saw terrible flooding in the town centre, saw many roads closed off and water coming into houses and businesses.
“Obviously it’s too early to speculate as to whether that had an effect on what we’re seeing just south of here.
“But the area has been battered over the last 24 hours.”
He said the train derailment had occurred in an “incredibly rural area”.
“It’s an area of beautiful farmland, forests and it will make accessing the site incredibly difficult for the emergency services,” he added.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch, the independent investigator, said it was sending a team of inspectors to the site to conduct a preliminary examination.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines was said to be cutting short a family holiday in Italy in order to visit the crash site on Thursday.
The last time a train crash caused a passenger or member of staff’s death in the UK was at Grayrigg, Cumbria, in February 2007.
Mick Lynch, the assistant general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “RMT is aware of the major incident at Stonehaven and our reps are liaising directly at senior level with both Scotrail and Network Rail.
“Our priority at this time is to support our members, their colleagues and their families and to do all that we can to assist the rescue operation which RMT members are currently involved in.
“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.”