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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Runaway Train Hits Neighborhood Outside L.A.

Aired June 20, 2003 - 20:06   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well near Los Angeles tonight, emergency crews and dogs are searching for victims after a huge train derailment. A Union Pacific spokeswoman says a string of 31 runaway freight cars, 31, got loose and rolled 27 miles along the tracks before some of them crashed into homes. CNN's Frank Buckley is standing by live in Commerce, California with the latest -- Frank.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's a spectacular derailment here in the city of Commerce.

Let me just show you what it looks like here in one cul-de-sac where you can see the train actually entered into the cul-de-sac, came off the track, you can see all the wood splintered about. This was a -- these were freight trains that were carrying wood.

And you can see it ended up right on top of a house here, this blue house, gray house with the coloring on it. This was an occupied home. Fortunately the -- there was no one killed here. But there were a number of injuries in this neighborhood, 13 people injured, that's an updated figure, none of them seriously. Six people were taken to hospitals, however.

We take you up top to give you an aerial view of what this looks like. You get a better sense of the extent of the damage in the neighborhood. As you can imagine this was breaking news on local television in southern California. And one woman told us she was watching the coverage when she realized this was her neighborhood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was actually in Santa Monica when somebody paged me and they told me you know something happened, there is a derailment on Garfield (ph) and Commerce (ph). I ran across the street in Santa Monica, I looked at the TV and I said, Oh, my God. Said, I think that's my street, said, Oh, that's my neighbor's house. I said, Oh, my God, that's my house and all the neighbor's houses are down. It was a complete shock. I couldn't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: Officials here are calling it a miracle that no one was killed. As you said, Anderson, the search is still going on to make sure there are no additional victims that were buried.

And we just learned a few moments ago -- I talked to Catherine Blackwell (ph) from Union Pacific Railroad, that in fact this train was intentionally sent into a siding with the outcome -- a likely outcome that train would in fact derail. Union Pacific Railroad spokesman telling me that the reason they did this the train was headed to the more populated area of Los Angeles where there are possibly commuter trains and more population. This train was traveling, they estimated more than 50 miles per hour.

So they intentionally moved it over to a siding, knowing that the train would probably derail -- Anderson.

COOPER: Just amazing there were not injuries. Frank Buckley, thank you very much.

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