Over 5,000 evacuated after US train derails, catches fire

WASHINGTON (TIP): More than 5,000 people were evacuated from their homes after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in Tennessee overnight and spectacularly caught fire, firefighters and officials said on July 2.

The train derailed just before midnight Wednesday near Maryville, close to the city of Knoxville, carrying acrylonitrile, a highly flammable and toxic substance that poses respiratory risks, firefighter Kermit Easterling said.

Local media said that 25 people had been admitted to Blount Memorial Hospital for exposure to the chemical but none were thought to be critically ill. Firefighters went door to door wearing breathing equipment to get people away from the fire, Easterling added, with residents living within a two-mile radius (three kilometers) ordered to evacuate. A Red Cross shelter was set up at a local school for evacuated residents, the firefighter said. Train operator CSX said it was aiding relief efforts and that a probe into the accident had been launched.

“CSX continues to work with first responders, relief agencies including the Red Cross, and health and environmental officials in Maryville, Tenn., after a tank car derailed and caught fire,” it said in a statement. “Earlier today, residents on wells in the vicinity of the derailment were advised by local authorities not to drink the water pending further assessments.

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