5 000 evacuated as train derails in Tennessee

2015-07-02 16:13
Tennessee derailment (AP)

Tennessee derailment (AP)

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Maryville - At least one car of a CSX train carrying a flammable and toxic substance derailed and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, prompting the evacuation of thousands nearby and the hospitalisation of several law enforcement officer.

Blount County Fire Department Lieutenant Johnny Leatherwood said a call about the train derailment came in on Wednesday just before midnight. The fire was still burning on Thursday at sunrise, he said.

About 5 000 people were being evacuated along with several businesses, Leatherwood said.

Blount County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Marian O'Briant says 10 law enforcement officers had to be taken to the hospital early Thursday because they breathed in fumes.

In a statement, CSX said the train car that derailed was carrying acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in a variety of industrial processes including making plastics. The substance is flammable and is dangerous if inhaled, CSX said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's website, some effects of breathing acrylonitrile include headaches, dizziness, irritability and rapid heartbeat.

Six or seven police officers had to be decontaminated, but no deaths have been reported, Leatherwood said. He could not say how many cars derailed.

On its Facebook page, the Blount County Sheriff's Office said early Thursday that the evacuations could last from 24 to 48 hours.

A shelter for residents has been set up at a local school.

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