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Breaking News

Train Derails En Route From Chicago to California

Aired March 18, 2001 - 9:45 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our top story, the train derailment in southwestern Iowa, some pictures just coming into CNN -- aerials of the derailed train. You're seeing what remains of the California Zephyr, a train that was -- origins in Chicago headed to the -- excuse me -- the Bay Area of California -- Oakland to be specific, left the tracks near Corning, Iowa at 11:40 p.m. I should say local time, 12:40 a.m. Eastern time.

Ninety people injured at least, some of them very seriously. One fatality reported. In an area of farmland -- very inaccessible and as you can see from the wreckage there, you can infer that the train was going along at a good clip.

Talking to the law enforcement personal that we've interviewing all morning, they say the trains typically are moving at about 80 miles an hour as they pass through that stretch of Iowa. As you can as well, it is a straight stretch of track. And at least 10 cars left the track -- some of them completely upended.

All of the passengers have been evacuated from the scene injured or otherwise. And the investigation is now underway in earnest.

The National Transportation Safety Board is on its way. Amtrak officials are on their way. We don't have confirmation yet as to whether they are on the scene. No indications from the authorities that we have been speaking to this morning as to what might have caused this derailment.

Some of the most seriously injured people were Medivaced out of there via helicopter to medical centers in the general vicinity. Accessibility to the sight, a real problem - no roads nearby according to the authorities -- required them to actually drive down the access road beside the rail bed just to obtain access the scene.

Once again, the California Zephyr, a total of 195 passengers on board, 15 crewmembers, left the tracks at 12:40 AM eastern time in southwestern Iowa near the town of Corning. One person dead, 90 injured. The investigation is underway. We'll back with more in just a moment.

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