Italy gas train derails and explodes, killing 15

At least 15 people were killed and 50 injured on Monday night in Italy when a freight train hauling liquefied petroleum gas derailed and exploded as it passed their homes, officials said on Tuesday.

About 1 000 people were evacuated following the blast just before midnight on Monday, which shook people from their beds in the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio, about 350km north of Rome.

Thirty-seven people were injured, seriously or very seriously, rescue workers said, including a two-year-old who was badly burned and was being transferred to a hospital in Florence.

It was Italy’s most deadly rail accident since 17 people were killed in January 2005, when a passenger train collided with a freight train near the northern city of Bologna.

Firefighters battled overnight to contain blazes started by the explosion and, as a precaution, were emptying liquefied petroleum gas from other, unexploded tanks in the wrecked train.

GATX Rail Europe, a unit of the United States-based GATX Corp, which owns the rail cars—each one made of a gas tank attached to a wagon—told Reuters it did not know the cause of the explosion and was gathering information from news reports.

Chief financial officer Werner Mitteregger said the tanks being transported on the Italian railways were new.

Television showed the fire spreading down city streets, setting cars and nearby buildings alight. Rescue workers set up along the roadside to provide first aid to burn victims.

At least two children were among the dead, officials said.

“Let me see him! Let me see him!,” screamed one man trying to see his grandson, who was among the dead, Ansa news agency reported.

Rescue workers pulled bodies from the rubble of damaged buildings. Ansa said two nearby buildings collapsed.

State railways said the accident occurred when one carriage derailed, pulling another four with it.
Liquefied petroleum gas escaped from a tank on one of the carriages and caught fire.—Reuters

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