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MATFIELD GREEN, KANSAS- On Saturday, 17 May 2003, at 0245, two Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains collided. sending four locomotives and five cars off the tracks, and causing minor injuries to one of the train crews. Nearby residents were evacuated for about five hours after the accident as a precaution, as this accident was the second in the area in the past nine days. The original accident was blamed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe officials on wind gusts which caused 39 cars off the track, one of which leaked sulfur dioxide.

The accident occurred when the eastbound Z-LACNYC9-15 (running from Los Angeles, CA to New York, New York) ran into the last remaining intermodal cars of the westbound Z-WSPALT1-16 (traveling from Willow Springs, IL to Alliance, TX) before it finished entering the passing siding. The reason why the eastbound intermodal hotshot did not slow to allow the westbound to finish entering the siding is the focus of an ongoing investigation. There was no additional information provided by Steve Forsberg, spokesman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

Four General Electric Dash 9-44CW locomotives, #4101, #4167, #4323, and #4617, as well as the lead intermodal freight car of the eastbound derailed, as well as the last four intermodal freight cars of the westbound were forced off the track by the force of the collision. Diesel fuel spilled from the derailed locomotives causing a consuming fire.

The crew of the eastbound train were treated for minor injuries at an Emporia, KS hospital. No other injuries were reported from the accident, which occurred about 40 miles northeast of Wichita, KS.

Rail traffic was being rerouted through North Dakota and Newton, KS until this section of the Emporium Subdivision is reopened.      

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