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Residents evacuated after US train derails, catches fire

train derailment richmond
Image: Brittney Phelps

Residents of a small Minnesota town were ordered to evacuate after a train carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire Thursday, authorities said, though no injuries were reported.

“Numerous” rail cars from a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed around 1:00 am (0600 GMT) in the town of Raymond, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of Minneapolis, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Tollefson said in a statement.

“Fire departments from Raymond and numerous area departments responded as several of the derailed tankers started on fire and were determined to be carrying a form of ethanol,” while others were filled with a corn syrup liquid, the statement said.

Residents within a half-mile of the accident site in the northern US state “were instructed to leave their homes” and advised not to travel to Raymond, the statement added.

No fatalities or injuries were immediately reported, according to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“We are tracking closely as more details emerge and will be involved in investigation,” Buttigieg tweeted Thursday morning, adding that officials from the Federal Railroad Administration were on site.

The crash comes amid increased scrutiny of rail freight carriers after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Ohio last month. State authorities said the derailment spilled more than one million gallons of toxic chemicals, including known carcinogen vinyl chloride, into the air, soil and waterways.

More than 2,000 people were forced from their homes in that crash, which is still under investigation, with many residents complaining of ailments such as nausea, headaches and rashes after being exposed to the fumes.

Train derailments are common in the United States, with more than 1,164 such accidents in 2022 — or an average of more than three per day — according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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