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Derailed Train Carrying Toxic Cargo Explodes

Associated Press

A fire following the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals sparked an explosion Monday that hurled debris hundreds of feet and shook buildings five miles away.

The early morning explosion of the tanker car sent a wave of heat as far as a command station 1 1/2 miles from the site where the 42 Cotton Belt Railroad cars--13 of them carrying toxic chemicals--derailed Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 4,000 persons.

Officials used binoculars to peer at the burning wreckage from a viaduct more than a mile away, then decided the danger of further explosions and toxic fumes was such that they would not approach the wreck and would let it burn itself out.

Gov. Bill Clinton declared an emergency, allowing the National Guard to patrol the evacuated area. No injuries were reported.

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The evacuees might have to stay out of their homes until the end of the week, state officials said.


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