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Up to four canisters of radioactive material fell 20ft in a container terminal accident in Halifax, Canada late Thursday, prompting an evacuation but officials said there was no sign of any leak.

Fire crews and other first-responders trained to deal with hazardous materials were called to the Ceres shipping terminal shortly before 10 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) for a reported radiation incident.

A container was being moved from a ship to the dock when up to four cylinders uranium hexafluoride - a material used in the production of fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons - fell about 20ft from inside the container and landed inside the ship.

Radioactivity levels were found to be three to four times higher than normal, and the immediate area was evacuated, Halifax Regional Municipality spokesman Brendan Elliott said in a statement.

“There have been no injuries, and all employees on site have tested negative for radiation contamination,” he said.

A special response team has been dispatched from Toronto and will arrive Friday.

"There is no indication anything leaked from the cylinders," Elliott said.

- Alastair Jamieson