Amtrak train derails in Kansas, 32 hurt

Amtrak Train Derails in Kansas, Sending Dozens to the Hospital
Amtrak Train Derails in Kansas, Sending Dozens to the Hospital

(Reuters) -- An Amtrak passenger train derailed in rural southwestern Kansas early on Monday injuring 32 people, possibly because of a bend in a rail ahead on an otherwise straight track.

Seven coaches from Amtrak's' Southwest Chief Train 4, bound from Los Angeles to Chicago, derailed about 125 miles (200 km) west of Wichita shortly after midnight, Amtrak said in a statement. There were 131 passengers and 14 crew aboard.

See more reports from social media below:

Thirty-two passengers were taken to hospitals in Dodge City and Garden City, and 29 had been released by midmorning, Amtrak said.

Passengers said they heard a loud cracking noise just before the accident, reported KWCH, the CBS television affiliate in Wichita.

"The train just lifted up off the ground and it set back down on the track and it does it again. It lifts back up and it slams me into the door" of a toilet, an unidentified male passenger told the station.

Annual Fatalities by Transportation Method in the US WanderBat

A second passenger said people were crying for help and looking for companions in the darkness. KWCH showed images of five cars laying on their sides in the middle of prairie, and two others still upright but off the rails.

The Associated Press reported that a U.S. government official who asked not to be named said an engineer noticed a significant bend in a rail ahead and hit the emergency brakes before the train derailed.

The official said the train appeared to have been traveling at about 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour) when the engineer pulled the brake, AP reported.

Spokesmen for the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, which are investigating the incident, declined to comment.

Amtrak said the train had two locomotives and nine cars, and the accident occurred on track owned by BNSF Railway Co, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Amtrak said its Southwest Chief Train 3, traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles, would detour around the crash scene on Monday, traveling from Newton, Kansas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Uninjured passengers were taken to a recreation center in nearby Cimarron before being provided alternate transportation.

In one of Amtrak's deadliest recent accidents, eight people were killed and 43 hurt last May when a New York-bound train derailed in Philadelphia. The train entered a curve at more than twice the recommended speed, investigators found.