Video: Recovery in Graniteville

updated 1/17/2005 12:45:47 AM ET 2005-01-17T05:45:47

Thousands of residents evacuated from their homes after chlorine gas leaked from a train wreck more than a week ago were back in their homes Saturday, but hundreds more waited to return.

More than 4,000 of the 5,400 evacuated residents had returned to their homes by Saturday, officials said. Other residents’ homes remained off-limits because they were closer to the chemical spill that killed nine people and injured 250 more on Jan. 6.

“When we walked in, I told the kids to start helping me clean the house, but I realized they needed to enjoy being home so I just let them play,” said resident Susan Clune.

Evacuations began after a Norfolk Southern train slammed into a parked train, puncturing a tanker of chlorine gas. A preliminary investigation determined the crew that parked a two-car train on a spur rail failed to switch the tracks back to the main rail.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control urged returning families to wash clothing and bedding left behind during the evacuation, and open doors and windows while running heating and air systems.

At least two lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern seek class-action status, which needs a judge’s approval. One of them claims the railroad failed to properly train its employees, conduct a timely evacuation and inspect a switch on the track.

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