Hundreds evacuated after fiery train derailment in Minnesota

Hundreds of people in Minnesota were evacuated after a train carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught on fire early Thursday morning.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed around 1.00am near the small town of Raymond, Minnesota, officials said on Thursday.

A total of 22 tanker cars, which were ethanol and corn syrup, quickly caught on fire after the crash. The fire burned for at least eight hours before it was extinguished later that day.

Exposure to ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, can cause coughing, dizziness, irritation to the skin and eyes, and drowsiness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some concentrations of the chemical are considered toxic, and can cause more severe organ damage.

Personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quickly arrived to monitor air quality on Thursday morning.

Officials in Raymond reported no injuries at the scene of the derailment, but as a precautionary measure most of the town’s just 800 residents were evacuated. The evacuation lasted until about 12.00pm.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he was following the situation closely, and confirmed his department would conduct and investigation in the causes of the derailment.

Thursday’s derailment comes less than two months after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Residents of the small midwestern town were evacuated after officials conducted a ‘controlled release’ of highly flammable chemicals at the crash site.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz praised the first responders for their swift work in on Thursday.

‘This incident has highlighted the critical need to invest in rail safety and the state’s emergency management response to prevent incidents like this from happening again,’ the governor said.

Meanwhile, the Raymond Fire Department asked concerned citizens from other parts of the state and country to send donations to the Unity Church in Prinsburg – one of the nearby evacuation centers.

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