residents-of-northeast-ohio-urged-to-evacuate-after-derailed-train-threatens-explosion
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Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4. Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

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Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4.

Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of East Palestine in northeast Ohio have been asked to evacuate, as officials fear the cars of a train that derailed nearby might explode or release toxic gases.

Gov. Mike DeWine issued an evacuation order on Sunday evening for people living within a mile of the train derailment. According to DeWine, a majority of residents left prior to the evacuation notice, but at least 500 people had refused. Families with children who fail to evacuate could face possible arrest.

The threat of a major explosion emerged Sunday night after a derailed train car experienced a drastic temperature change, according to DeWine. A “catastrophic tanker failure” could cause a blast and send deadly shrapnel to fly up to a mile away, he continued.

There has also been concern about hazardous materials like vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate and combustible liquids contained in the derailed cars.

The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency said they are monitoring the air quality and sampling the water in the Sulphur Run, a nearby stream, for any contamination. As of Sunday afternoon, officials told residents that the air and drinking water were safe.

On Sunday evening, Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin said there was “a high probability of a toxic gas release and or explosion.” Local, state and federal authorities have been on site to prevent a blast.

The East Palestine City School District is closed on Monday. Several roads are also closed throughout the village of East Palestine, as of Monday morning.

About 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern train went off track in East Palestine on Friday around 9 p.m. local time. The train was eastbound heading from Madison, Ill., to Conway, Pa.

The derailment led to a days-long fire that caused a strong odor around the area, according to member station WOSU.

Ten of the 50 derailed cars contained hazardous materials — five of which include vinyl chloride, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

In a press conference on Sunday, the agency’s said investigations are ongoing but preliminary findings indicate one of the rail car axles experienced mechanical issues.

The agency added that three crew members on the train were able to evacuate and no injuries have been reported.

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