Train derails, explodes in West Virginia; crude oil spills into river

Train derails, explodes in West Virginia; crude oil spills into river
# 17 February 2015 17:31 (UTC +04:00)

At least 27 of the train's more than 100 cars veered off the tracks, the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said. And at least 15 of the derailed cars caught fire.

One home was destroyed, and one person was injured, agency spokesman Lawrence Messina said.

Complicating matters: Oil from the train spilled into the Kanawha River -- a source of drinking water in Kanawha and Fayette counties. Even parts of the river caught fire amid the explosions, Messina said.

At least two water treatment plant shut down Monday night as officials investigate how much oil may have spilled into the river, CNN affiliate WSAZsaid. About 2,000 people were at risk of losing water service.

"Customers in the Montgomery area are asked to conserve water and only use it for essential functions," West Virginia American Water said in a statement.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a state of emergency for Kanawha and Fayette counties.

About 1,000 were displaced due to the threat of fire or from power outages caused by the fire, Messina said.

The heat from the flames was so intense Monday night that crews couldn't get closer to investigate until at least Tuesday, WSAZ said.

Chronic explosions

Some train cars exploded at unpredictable intervals, shocking residents with each deafening blast.

"We were standing down by the river bank when we saw the train explode -- or a car explode -- and it shot up a mushroom cloud," witness Alex Fandor told.

As he spoke, another loud explosion sent an colossal fireball into the sky.