5 000 evacuated after spill

2009-03-22 09:57
Washington - At least 5 000 residents were evacuated in eastern Pennsylvania after a truck carrying 33 000 pounds of toxic hydrofluoric acid overturned early on Saturday.

Driver Raymond Leblanc, 54, of Ontario, Canada, lost control of the vehicle while trying to avoid hitting a deer. He was initially trapped in the truck, but was rescued unhurt. Another passenger was also removed from the site and no other injuries were reported, police said.

Most of the acid was in the form of pressurised gas, police told broadcaster CNN and the leak was plugged eight and a half hours after the trailer overturned near Wind Gap, Pennsylvania.

Residents living within a two-kilometre radius of the accident site were evacuated - many went to a shelter set up at a nearby high school - and were allowed to return to their homes by evening.

Hydrogen fluoride acid is highly corrosive and contact with concentrated solutions can cause severe burns. Inhalation of the gas can cause respiratory irritation and serious eye damage. - Sapa-dpa

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