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Explosion after cargo train derailment in Maryland

29 May 2013

A cargo train carrying chemicals in the US state of Maryland hit a truck and derailed, causing a blast felt half a mile away on May 28. At least one of the derailed railcars was reportedly carrying hazardous materials. The train derailed near Baltimore and the subsequent fire sent a thick plume of dark smoke from the wreckage.

The driver of the truck was taken to hospital in a serious condition, but there were no other reported casualties. Officials have said no toxic inhalants were burning on the train and that there would be no mandatory evacuation. Both CSX train crew were reported safe.

A spokesman for the CSX cargo company said sodium chlorate, classified by the US transportation department as hazardous material, was on the train. 

By nightfall, the hazmat team had left, meaning there was no more danger posed from the chemicals in the burning railcar, said Baltimore County police Capt. Bruce Schultz.

Two warehouses were heavily damaged by the explosion and other buildings suffered some damage, but none collapsed.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration were sending teams to investigate Tuesday's crash of the 45-car freight train en route from Selkirk, New York, to Waycross, Georgia.

Late yesterday evening, Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB said the accident occurred at a private crossing where the only marking was a stop sign. He said it wasn't clear why the truck was crossing the tracks or whether it was authorized to be there.

Photos showed at least a dozen rail cars off the tracks, including at least one tanker car. Sease said four of the cars believed derailed carried terephthalic acid, which is used in the production of plastics and polyester, among other things. He said it is not listed as a hazardous material.

This was the third major rail crash in the US in the past two weeks.

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