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One dead, over 40 injured in Belgium after train with chemicals derailed, caught fire (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Published time: May 04, 2013 07:44
Edited time: May 05, 2013 14:20

Aerial picture taken on May 4, 2013 of an exploded freight train on a track near Schellebelle, 20 kms east of Gent on May 4, 2013 (AFP Photo / Belga / Benoit Doppagne)

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At least one person died and 49 were injured after a train carrying chemicals derailed and caught on fire in Belgium, local media report. Nearly 300 people were evacuated from their homes in the northwestern city of Ghent.

The incident happened around 2:00am local time (24:00 GMT), causing a major fire. A total of six carriages derailed: two were on their side and three were on fire.

The dead person is reported to be the train driver. Most injured people complained of intoxication with poisonous fumes emitted during the blaze. 

The blaze had been extinguished by late Saturday night. Firefighters waited until the fire went out by itself as burning chemicals emitting toxic gasses posed a hazard. The blazing carriages contained acrylonitrile, a toxic, but no explosive substances.

After the train caught fire, a series of explosions rocked the train cars, prompting authorities to evacuate residents living nearby and disrupting the railway service in the area for at least two days, DH newspaper quoted governor of East Flanders Jan Briers as saying.

The train was coming from the Netherlands and was heading to the city’s seaport – Ghent-Zeehaven.

Firemen work next to a train on fire on a track near Schellebelle, 20 kms east of Gent on May 4, 2013 (AFP Photo / Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck)

Aerial picture taken on May 4, 2013 of an exploded freight train on a track near Schellebelle, 20 kms east of Gent on May 4, 2013 (AFP Photo / Belga / Benoit Doppagne)

Aerial picture taken on May 4, 2013 of an exploded freight train on a track near Schellebelle, 20 kms east of Gent on May 4, 2013 (AFP Photo / Belga / Benoit Doppagne)

Aerial picture taken on May 4, 2013 of an exploded freight train on a track near Schellebelle, 20 kms east of Gent on May 4, 2013 (AFP Photo / Belga / Benoit Doppagne)