- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

TAMAROA, Ill., Feb. 10 (UPI) — Residents of this tiny Illinois town spent a second day out of their homes Monday because of a chemical spill from 16 tanker cars of a 100-car Illinois Central Canadian Pacific freight train.

About 1,000 people were forced to evacuate Sunday after 16 tanker cars, each carrying more than 24,000 gallons of methanol, vinyl chloride, formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid, derailed in the middle of town releasing a cloud of toxic vapor.

As many as six cars were leaking chemicals, sheriff's police said.

There were no injuries but authorities said many people who were evacuated may not be permitted back in their homes until Wednesday. About 50 people spent Sunday night in an emergency shelter at an American Legion Hall in Du Quoin, 10 miles south.

Passengers on Amtrak trains between Chicago and Carbondale were put on buses to complete their travel Sunday and two trains between Chicago and New Orleans were rerouted.

An official from the Perry County Emergency Management Services in Pickneyville said no residents were being allowed within a 3-mile radius of the derailment.

"We are dealing with a chemical spill of several hundred thousand gallons, David Searby, head of the county EMS, told The Southern Illinoisan newspaper. "Overturned cars, damaged cars that are not leaking at this time, cars that were part of the fire."

Several methanol-fueled fires initially made the derailment site just east of Casey's General Store extremely hazardous for firefighters and other first responders. Witnesses said a thick toxic cloud prompted the evacuation of the town's 800 residents and people in the surrounding rural area.

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