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Train derailment causes diesel spill and fire in Wales, hundreds evacuated

27 August 2020

A train carrying diesel fuel derailed and burst into flames on August 26 in south Wales, UK. The incident happened in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire and was declared a major incident by firefighters as spilt diesel made its way into the River Loughor.

Image: Natural Resources Wales
Image: Natural Resources Wales

Around 300 people were immediately evacuated from the village of Llangennech after a blaze was reported at about 23:20 local time. DB Cargo UK, the owner of the train, said a driver and engineer that were aboard the train at the time had managed to escape unharmed.

First responders were unable to stop the spread of the diesel spill at first after Natural Resources Wales said the area was not safe. Local police said that the driver of the train noticed that something was wrong with the train before it derailed and burst into flames.

Puma Energy said that the train had been travelling from Milford Haven in south west Wales to Theale, near Reading. The third-party operated train had been carrying the energy company’s fuel at the time of the derailment.

In a statement, the British Transport Police said: “What we know is a freight train, carrying large amounts of diesel oil, caught fire and a number of its wagons also derailed. Thankfully, despite the clear danger, no injuries have been reported. The two members of railway staff operating the train were able raise the alarm and uncouple the locomotive and move it to a safe space.”

After the train burst into flames, police declared a major incident and began evacuating locals living nearby. Witnesses reported seeing dark plumes of smoke rising into the night sky and flames along the train tracks.

A preliminary examination by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has begun and the organisation is gathering evidence. It has not been announced how much diesel fuel was being carried by the train, why it derailed, or how it caught fire.

At a press conference on August 27, Supt Andy Morgan, of the British Transport Police said: “While this is an ongoing incident that may go on for some time, we are hugely thankful that no-one has been injured or anything more serious than that has happened here."

A foam tender, 14 pumps, and specialist hazardous material officers were sent to the scene of the accident along with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The affected tankers that were involved in the fire have since been cooled and are now being actively monitored by firefighters.

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