Railroad Crash Leaves 8 Dead, Exposes All to Toxic Chlorine Gas Spill

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Railroad train carrying chlorine gas crashes and kills 8 people, injuring 240 others.

A freight train carrying chlorine gas hit a parked train Thursday at 2:30 a.m., leaving eight people death and injuring at least 240 others.

South Carolina Sen. Tommy Moore said he was told all the deaths were the result of chlorine fume inhalation, except for the engineer of the moving train, who died in the railroad crash. Five of the deceased were inside the Avondale Mill, the textile plant where the railroad crash happened.

Nearly all the people injured in the railroad crash were suffering from exposure to the potentially deadly gas that can damage the respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as the throat, nose and eyes. One of the residents treated after the railroad crash described the chlorine fumes as making “your tongue numb, your throat gets sore and your eyes get dry.”

Authorities ordered all 5,400 people within a mile of the railroad crash to evacuate in the afternoon because the chlorine was still leaking. Three of the 42 cars involved in the railroad crash were carrying chlorine, and Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said he did not know how many of the cars were damaged.

Most of the people in the area of the railroad crash, but about a dozen, were persuaded by authorities to evacuate and were taken to shelters. Gov. Mark Sanford declared a state of emergency for Aiken County in response to the railroad crash. Eight people were in critical condition Thursday night after the railroad crash.

People exposed to chlorine from the railroad crash were told to report to decontamination units at two schools. Most of the railroad crash injuries were treated for respiratory ailments and released, but at least 45 people were admitted to hospitals, according to authorities.

Prior to the evacuation, residents nearby the railroad crash were instructed to stay inside their homes, and textile plants and schools in the area were shut down. The railroad crash prompted a 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in Graniteville, about 15 miles northeast of Augusta, Georgia.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the railroad crash.

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