Video: Train derails, explodes in Kentucky

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/16/2007 2:12:05 PM ET 2007-01-16T19:12:05

Several train cars carrying flammable liquid derailed and exploded south of Louisville Tuesday, shutting down a nearby highway and forcing evacuations of nearby homes, businesses and a school, authorities said.

Kentucky State Police dispatcher Joey Mattingly said he didn’t know what was aboard the train, and television footage showed flaming liquid flowing down ditches from the mangled tanker cars. Flames and a huge column of smoke rose over the wreckage.

“We had a train derailment with some type of an explosion,” he said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the wreck that occurred about 8:50 a.m. EST, Mattingly said. The cause was under investigation.

The immediate area, including Brooks Elementary School, was evacuated, said state police Maj. Lisa Rudzinsky. She did not give the radius of the affected area, which has a mixture of residential, industrial and rural properties.

Authorities were preparing to shut down a nearby section of Interstate 65, Mattingly said.

The Kentucky National Guard said it mobilized 20 to 25 soldiers and airmen to check air quality.

Bullitt County resident Daymon Strange said he was outside his home less than a half-mile from the crash site when he heard an explosion.

“I turned around and looked and there was fire at least 500 feet in the air,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’ve never seen such a fire. It was huge.”

Strange said he smelled the fumes even though they were blowing away from his home.

"You can taste it and feel it in your lungs when you go outside," he said.

It was the second fiery train crash in Kentucky in two days. On Monday, four runaway rail cars struck two parked locomotives in central Kentucky, catching fire and spilling a chemical that prompted a limited evacuation .

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