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Tennessee train bearing toxic substance derails, thousands evacuated (+video)

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(Read caption) A freight train derailed Thursday morning near Knoxville, Tenn., forcing thousands to evacuate.

At least one car of a train carrying a flammable and toxic substance derailed and caught fire in eastern Tennessee Wednesday night, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and several businesses nearby.

The Blount County Fire Department received a call about the CSX train derailment at 11:50 p.m., Lt. Johnny Leatherwood told the Associated Press.

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Lieutenant Leatherwood says no deaths have been reported, but 10 law enforcement officers have been transported to the hospital after breathing in potentially toxic fumes and six or seven officers have had to be decontaminated.

According to a local fire official, about 5,000 people and several businesses are being evacuated within a 2-mile radius of the incident.

CSX Corp wrote in a statement at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday:

Around midnight, a train en route from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Waycross, Ga., derailed the single tank car loaded with acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in a variety of industrial processes including the manufacture of plastics. The substance is flammable and presents an inhalation risk. First responders have ordered an evacuation of residences and businesses in a two-mile radius.

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

A Red Cross shelter has been set up at a local high school in Maryville for locals who have been evacuated.

In the early morning, the fire department reported that the fire is still burning. Firefighters and hazardous-materials crew are on the scene.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener says the situation is being handled locally but two state emergency management officials have been sent to Blount County in case backup is needed.

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There are no reports yet on what caused the derailment.

The Wednesday derailment is the second CSX derailment incident in less than five months.

In mid-February a train carrying more than three million gallons of crude derailed in West Virginia, causing a big fire.

The west Virginia fire, the most recent incident in a string of oil transportation mishaps, fueled calls for tighter safety rules.

CSX said on Wednesday that the derailed train in Tennessee did not contain crude oil and a out of 57 cars, 27 were carrying hazardous materials.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.


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