Three people including the driver and conductor have died at the scene of a train derailment in Aberdeenshire amid heavy rain and flooding.
British Transport Police said another six people had been taken to hospital after the incident in Stonehaven, though their injuries are not believed to be serious.
In a statement, BTP said that although formal identification had not yet taken place, the driver of the train was believed to be among those who had died.
Meanwhile, the RMT union, which represents rail workers, said that the train’s conductor was another victim.
ScotRail confirmed the third casualty was a passenger on its 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service.
Chief superintendent Eddie Wylie said: “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.”
The news comes after the Scottish government declared a “major incident”.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said her “deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident”.
She wrote on Twitter: “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.”
My deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 12, 2020
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
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he would visit Stonehaven on Thursday to thank emergency services “and see what assistance we can provide”.
“The safety of passengers and staff is and has always been our upmost priority and we will ensure that lessons are learned from this tragic incident once the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has carried out its investigation,” he said.
Kevin Lindsay, Scotland organiser for the Aslef train drivers union, said: “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.”
He added: “There will be an investigation into the causes of the crash, and we will learn those lessons, as we have in the past, because the railway is one of the safest modes of transport.
“The UK has some of the safest railways in the world, and Scotland is the safest part of the UK, but that does not, of course, diminish the impact of today’s crash on all those involved.”
Pictures posted from the scene showed at least six ambulance vehicles, an air ambulance and a number of police response cars at the scene.
Smoke could be seen billowing in the background.
Rail industry sources told the PA news agency that the suspected cause of the incident was a landslip. Heavy rain and flooding also affected the area on Wednesday morning.
The train involved was the 6.38am Aberdeen to Stonehaven, made up of an engine and four carriages. It is reported that the engine and three carriages derailed, and slid down an embankment.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie said the local hospital had declared a major incident.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s obviously a terrible situation, a train derailment, the emergency services are on the scene.
“I’ve already spoken to Grant Shapps, who has spoken to Network Rail and the British Transport Police who are obviously investigating and assisting. I am aware that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has declared a major incident.”
ScotRail posted a message on Twitter shortly after 6.30am warning that services across Scotland would be disrupted due to “extremely heavy rain flooding”.
A video shared on Facebook at 7.30am shows heavy flooding in Stonehaven.
Bowie had been in Stonehaven surveying the flood damage earlier on Wednesday, describing the situation as “really bad”.
He said: “The main river which flows through it, had burst its banks and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the centre of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it.
“Luckily, the water receded incredibly quickly and the river has peaked and is going down. Obviously none of us expected there to be such a serious incident as a rail derailment at the same time, but it just goes to show how damaging the bad weather can be.”
He added: “I don’t think speculation is helpful at this stage. We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we have suffered terrible weather here.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.