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City Accommodates Train Derailment VictimsAired March 18, 2001 - 10:00 a.m. ET
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MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Back now to our top story. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected at the site of an Amtrak derailment in a remote area of Southwestern Iowa. The California Zephyr typically travels at high speed through the area, about 80 miles an hour or so, on it's way to the San Francisco bay area from Chicago.
At least one is dead, 90 others injured. 210 passengers and crew were aboard the train when it jumped the track shortly before midnight local time. It was near the town of Corning, Iowa. And on the line with us now is the Mayor of Corning, Robert Tafford.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us. I understand you've been at the community center with many of the passengers of that train. If you could just set the scene for us, please.
MAYOR ROBERT TAFFORD, NODAWAY, IOWA: Yes. We've been, since about midnight, getting set up for coffee and tea and chocolate, things to help the people out, and blankets so they can get warmed up. We're a little town of Nodaway, which is 13 miles east of Corning and they seem to be settling in pretty good and they've transferred everybody now to Omaha by bus from this point.
O'BRIEN: I apologize for identifying you as the Mayor of Corning -- Mayor of Nodaway.
O'BRIEN: Mr. Mayor, just to give us a sense of the mood, I mean, obviously people are very shocked. I assume you've had a chance to talk to some of the people. What have they told you about what happened on that train?
TAFFORD: Well, I really didn't, they weren't really talking too much about what happened on it except the fact that it was kind of traumatic. They were just more relieved to be out of it and someplace where it's warm.
O'BRIEN: How were people's emotions, though?
TAFFORD: Kind of -- expected. You know, not really too bad. It surprised me. They weren't really too - didn't seem to be too shaken by it.
O'BRIEN: Were there many people there who had friends, relatives, who were injured?
TAFFORD: I really couldn't answer that. I didn't get to talk to that many of the people.
O'BRIEN: Alright. Have you had a chance to go to the scene?
TAFFORD: No, I haven't. I'm on the Fire Department, but I thought I was needed here to keep supplies going.
O'BRIEN: Alright. Tell us about the response. Have you been - have you had a capable response, given the fact it's such a remote area? Are you pleased with the way you were helped by your sister communities?
TAFFORD: Oh, yes, definitely. There were, from five or six different communities around us, came in to help out.
O'BRIEN: Now, these trains, as I understand it, go through your town at a fairly good clip, at least 80 miles an hour. We're told that we should be led to believe that the California Zephyr was doing nothing at the time of this derailment. I'm curious if there has been any underlying concern about that in your community.
TAFFORD: Really, I haven't had a chance to find out to be out yet, because it's such, you know, early, on a Sunday morning.
O'BRIEN: Have you ever had any problems with the trains in the past, however?
TAFFORD: No, not here. It's been quite awhile since there was any.
O'BRIEN: All right. Robert Tafford is the Mayor of Nodaway, Iowa where the community center has been set up and people who were not injured in the derailment have been taken to to warm up, get a few things to drink, something to eat, and try to assess what happened. Overnight, 11:40 p.m. Eastern, or excuse me, Central time, 12:40 a.m. Eastern time, the California Zephyr left the tracks in Nodaway, Iowa and we will keep you posted as events unfold.
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