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Amtrak Train Derails Near Dodge City; At Least 30 Injured

An Amtrak train carrying more than 140 people derailed near Dodge City early Monday morning. The train was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. As KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports, at least 30 people were injured.

The derailment happened just after midnight near Cimarron, Kansas, about 180 miles west of Wichita. Five of the train’s cars ended up on their side, critically injuring two passengers, who were airlifted to Amarillo, Texas.

Rex Beemer, assistant emergency manager for Gray County, says emergency responders transported 30 people—21 to Dodge City and nine to Garden City—for treatment.

“A lot of them have been released from the hospital, brought back over here to shelter, and on the buses headed out now,” Beemer says.

Those who weren’t injured were welcomed by American Red Cross volunteers at the Gray County 4-H and Extension office in Cimarron, just a short drive from the derailment site.

Beemer says passengers spent more than 10 hours at the extension office before several charter buses arrived to take them to their original destinations.

The National Transportation Safety Board said at a press conference Monday afternoon that there is "some indication" that there was misalignment on the tracks where the train derailed. The agency will be in Cimarron for a week-long investigation before it gives any probable cause into the crash.

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UPDATED 1:11: At least 32 people were injured in the derailment, which happened near Cimarron, a rural community about 160 miles west of Wichita. Nearly all of the injured were treated and released, but two are in critical condition.

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UPDATED 11:03 a.m: A government official says an engineer noticed a significant bend in a rail ahead and hit the emergency brakes before a passenger train derailed in western Kansas. The U.S. official who was briefed on the investigation into the early Monday derailment of the Amtrak train says the train appears to have been travelling at about 75 mph when the engineer pulled the emergency brake, slowing the train. 

The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing federal probe. Amtrak says 32 people were taken to hospitals for treatment and that 29 had been released by late morning. The train was travelling from Los Angeles to Chicago.

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UPDATED 8:20 a.m: National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway says the agency is sending a team to investigate Monday's derailment. He says more information will be released once the team arrives in Kansas.

Amtrak says that people who were aboard this train at the time of the incident and friends and family of those aboard this train have a special number to call for information: 800-523-9101.

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UPDATED 7:30 a.m.: Authorities say 29 people have been taken to hospitals after an Amtrak train derailed in rural southwest Kansas.

Grey County spokeswoman Ashley Rogers says of the 29 people hurt, none has life-threatening injuries.

An Amtrak statement says the Southwest Chief was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago early Monday when it derailed just after midnight about 20 miles west of Dodge City. Amtrak says the train had about 128 passengers and 14 crew members on board.

Rogers says she went to the scene and saw five cars on their sides and two others that were off the tracks but still standing. She says buses and ambulances have taken the passengers who are not hurt to a community building in the small town of Cimarron to wait while Amtrak makes arrangements to take them to their destinations.

She said the people waiting at the community center were being offered food and coffee.

"You can tell people are tired," Rogers said. "They've had a long night."

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.