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Amtrak train derails in Savannah with more than 300 passengers on board

Three cars on an Amtrak train with more than 300 passengers on board derailed while backing into the station in Savannah, Georgia, on Wednesday night, officials said.

The Silver Meteor train No. 98 was traveling from Miami to New York when the incident happened about 10 p.m. Wednesday, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said.

“All three cars — a baggage car and two sleeper cars — are fully upright,” Abrams said.

Passenger Joel Potischman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he boarded shortly after 9 a.m. in Delray Beach, Fla., to head home to Brooklyn, New York.

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Along the way, winter storm weather affected the tracks and as the train approached the Savannah station, an announcement was made that a switch was frozen, Potischman said.

“The goal was to overshoot it and back in to the platform,” he said.

Instead, the switch apparently opened, causing the cars at the back of the train to derail.

Mike Zevon, another passenger, told the AJC the last three cars derailed.

Zevon took a photo from where he was seated, saying the 9813 car was about 4 feet to the left of where it should have been from his view.

“The last car is the baggage car and the other two are sleepers,” Zevon said. “No one is injured as of now. Last announcement said they were removing passengers who were ticketed for Savannah and they were still working on a plan to get us up north as safely as possible.”

There are about 311 passengers on board, Abrams said, and there were no reports of injuries to passengers or crew.

“The train is expected to continue north, with some of the sleeping car passengers being transferred to a different train,” Abrams said.

Potischman said people weren’t panicking. 

“Things are calm,” he said. “We’re in the car; they’ve not made any announcements about evacuating.”

Potischman said he assumes he’ll be late getting to Brooklyn, but isn’t worried.

“We’re holding tight,” he said.

Plane disappears from radar over Gulf of Mexico after taking off from Oklahoma City

A plane that took off from the Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is missing.

The small aircraft, which can seat five people, was supposed to land in Georgetown, Texas, but radar data shows that it kept going and flew south over the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Coast Guard said it is searching for the last point of contact to confirm whether or not the plane is lost. Officials with NORAD sent four F-16 fighter jets to aid in the search. 

Authorities found the plane, but officials said they could not get the pilot to respond. 

The pilots of the fighter jets said they could only see one person on board -- the pilot. 

Mexican authorities, the US Coast Guard and the State Department are now in charge of the investigation. 

The plane is registered to Abide Aviation LLC out of Edmond, Oklahoma.

The aircraft is a Cirrus SR-22, which is usually equipped with a parachute system that requires someone to pull a lever in the event of an emergency.

Delta flight forced to return to Atlanta airport twice

A Delta flight on its way to London turned around and returned to Atlanta for a second time overnight

>> Delta warns flights may be affected by Southeast winter weather

Delta Flight 284 took off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

Delta told WSB-TV that pilots heard a noise coming from the plane and out of an abundance of caution decided it was in their best interest to turn the plane around. 

>> Bird enters cockpit, forcing airplane’s return to gate

According to, the flight made it just over the North Carolina border when it turned around. 

The plane landed safely shortly before 9:30 p.m. at Hartsfield-Jackson.

A Delta representative said the passengers heading to London would be placed on another flight, which was expected to take off around 11 p.m. Tuesday. That plane took off but then turned around again at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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The third flight is not scheduled to leave until Wednesday night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Delta passenger upset after being mistaken for human trafficking victim

A Delta Air Lines passenger is upset after being mistaken for a human trafficking victim.

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Lawrenceville, Georgia, resident Stephanie Ung and her friend were returning from a birthday trip in Cancun and coming home to family on Thanksgiving when they were stopped and questioned by officials after the flight arrived in Atlanta. Her brother Henry Ung described the incident in a Facebook post alleging racial discrimination.

Stephanie Ung, a 26-year-old kindergarten teacher in Gwinnett County, said, “They just kept questioning me.”

“I was embarrassed at the airport,” Ung said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. ... This whole experience pretty much has me traumatized.”

>> On Airport training targets human trafficking

Delta said its flight attendants “are trained to look out for signs of possible trafficking.” Amid a campaign to stop human trafficking in Atlanta and beyond, some airline and airport workers have been trained to look out for such signs.

Delta said in a written statement the two women were “observed by another customer to not be in possession of their passports — a possible indicator of a human trafficking event. Delta took the concern seriously and contacted the appropriate authorities who addressed the customers upon landing.”

>> On Hartsfield-Jackson art exhibit focuses on human trafficking

“While their investigation did show that our customers were not being trafficked, we train our crew members to remain alert and use their professional experience and practice best judgment to ensure the safety of customers,” the airline said.

Delta also said: “We do not tolerate discrimination and are troubled by any accusations of discrimination. We have reached out to speak with our customers directly.”

Train leaks molten sulfur after derailing in Florida, firefighters say

A freight train leaked molten sulfur early Monday after it derailed near Kathleen, Florida, Polk County Fire Rescue officials said.

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Firefighters said they were returning from a medical call shortly after 1:45 a.m. when they found several overturned, mangled train cars at Kathleen and Strickland roads, PCFR spokesman Kevin Walter said. 

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"A small fire was extinguished by firefighters," Walter said. "Following the incident, crews went door-to-door to notify residents on Strickland Road about the shelter in place order." 

Residents were asked to close their windows, shut off their air conditioners and to stay in their homes, Walter said. They were allowed to leave their homes by 9 a.m., he said.

>> On Deputies: Polk County woman on horseback arrested for DUI

Walter said that CSX and state officials continued on Monday to clean up the spillage, remove the damaged train cars and investigate the cause of the derailment. 

Pat Purgason, who lives nearby, said he was awoken by the sound of the derailment. 

"All of (the) sudden it (sounded) like a bomb went off," he said. "And I was like, 'Oh my word.'" 

The train -- which included three locomotives, 120 loaded railcars and 72 empty railcars -- was traveling from Waycross, Georgia, to Winston, Florida, when nine of the railcars derailed, a CSX spokeswoman said.

"A preliminary assessment indicates that four of those cars contained molten (sulfur), a hazardous material used in making rubber, detergent and fertilizers," the spokeswoman said. "Several were reported to be leaking." 

>> On Deputies: 16 men arrested, 2 at large in Polk County child porn sting

The train was also carrying cardboard, oats and rock, she said.

Molten sulfur is also used in sulfuric acid production, petroleum refining, and pulp and paper manufacturing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The chemical, which has a faint odor of rotten eggs, causes thermal burns to skin upon contact and may cause irritation to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, NOAA said.

Kathleen Road at Strickland Road and from Youngs Ridge Road to Spivey Road is expected to remain closed until Monday evening. 

No one was injured.

>> On 106 Norwegian reindeer killed by freight trains in 3 days

Arizona DOT gets silly with 'Dilly Dilly' sign

In an effort to encourage sober drivers over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to get silly. Or is that dilly?

Television viewers are likely familiar with Budweiser's latest ad campaign, featuring a court in a vaguely medieval setting. Those in attendance who bring Bud Light receive an enthusiastic reception, with everyone saying, "Dilly, dilly!" Those who do not bring Bud Light are sent to the "pit of misery."

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The Arizona DOT sign reads, "Sober driver? Dilly! Dilly!"

In case you're wondering, Merriam-Webster defines dilly as "one that is remarkable or outstanding."

An Arizona DOT spokesman told that the agency often uses pop culture references in its messaging to connect with drivers.

Tesla touts new Roadster as world's 'quickest car'

Tesla unveiled what it called “the quickest car in the world” late Thursday,

And the new Roadster is fast. Very fast.

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On its website, Tesla said that its Roadster production car, the newest version of its original sports vehicle, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds.

Tesla also said that the Roadster, which will be available in 2020, can go from 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds and can cover a quarter-mile in 8.9 seconds. The four-seater can hit speeds up to 250 mph. Tesla said.

“It will be the first time that any production car has broken nine seconds in the quarter mile,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told CNBC.

The “all-electric supercar” also has a 200-kilowatt battery pack that offers 620 miles of highway driving.

Suggested retail price is $200,000, Tesla said.

NASA scrubs launch of JPSS-1 weather satellite again

4:37 a.m. EST Wednesday: The satellite launch scheduled for this morning was canceled due to upper level winds, according to NASA.

ORIGINAL STORY: NASA, in partnership with the NOAA, will launch a satellite today that will help improve weather forecasts.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: NASA postpones JPSS-1 weather satellite launch

The launch for the JPSS-1 satellite is scheduled for 4:47 a.m. EST, according to NASA.

A live stream of the launch will be available on NASA’s website.

The satellites will help improve NOAA forecasts for the three- to seven-day time frame. The data collected from the JPSS is fed into the numerical forecast models to help improve them. The satellites will also collect atmospheric measurements, ground conditions and ocean conditions like vegetation, hurricane intensity and atmospheric moisture. 

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The JPSS-1 will be launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California pending proper flight conditions. The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was delayed until today.

This satellite is a polar orbiting satellite, which means it will orbit the earth from the one pole to the other passing the equator 14 times a day. Full coverage of the planet will be provided then twice a day.

NASA postpones JPSS-1 weather satellite launch

NASA, in partnership with the NOAA, scrubbed Tuesday’s launch of a weather satellite that will help improve weather forecasts due to a last-minute technical problem.

JPSS-1 is the first of a few polar orbiting satellites to launch from the Joint Polar Satellite System.

>> Read more trending news 

The satellites will help improve NOAA forecasts for the three- to seven-day time frame. The data collected from the JPSS is fed into the numerical forecast models to help improve them. The satellites will also collect atmospheric measurements, ground conditions and ocean conditions like vegetation, hurricane intensity, and atmospheric moisture.

The JPSS-1 was scheduled to be launched around 4:47 a.m. EST from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. The launch has been postponed until Wednesday.

This satellite is a polar orbiting satellite, which means it will orbit the earth from the one pole to the other passing the equator 14 times a day. Full coverage of the planet will be provided then twice a day.

2 security officials fired after United Airlines passenger dragged off plane in viral video

Airport security officials who were caught on video in April forcibly removing a passenger from a United Airlines flight in Chicago have been disciplined. Two employees were fired and two suspended following the incident, which caused public outrage after the footage went viral, the Washington Post reports.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

The fiasco became a huge public relations headache for United. In the videos, officers are seen aggressively grabbing a passenger — Dr. David Dao — who was reportedly selected at random to be removed from the overbooked flight so that his seat could be given to a United crew member.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: United passenger dragged from plane reaches settlement with airline

In a quarterly report, Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General found that a Chicago Department of Aviation security officer “improperly escalated the incident” and that a sergeant “made misleading statements” and “deliberately removed material facts” from employee reports on the April 9 incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. The first officer and the sergeant were fired, and another two officers involved in the incident were suspended — one of whom subsequently resigned, the report said.

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The security officers “mishandled a non-threatening situation,” which led to the “violent” removal of the 69-year-old Dao, the inspector general’s report said. “The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth,” a news release accompanying the report stated.

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