Rail explosion reported at Viareggio, Italy

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A map of the railway station of Viareggio.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

According to reports, a train carrying containers of a gas, has been involved in a major incident near the Italian city of Viareggio at around midnight (local time). State television said the train derailed followed by an explosion.

According to the latest reports from Protezione Civile, at least 14 people have been killed, with another 50 injured. Up to 35 of those have suffered serious burns. Three children were among those killed.

WAtoday, stated that a street near the station in Viareggio, a coastal city of 50,000, was enveloped in flames. There are also reports of structural damage to buildings close to the incident, with two thought to have collapsed.

"The train was diverted and two of the carriages appear to have derailed," said journalist Nick Pisa to Sky News. "Along that side of the railway line there are houses and they caught the full effect of the blast."

The train carried liquefied petroleum gas in tank rail cars, owned by the Austrian subsidiary of GATX Corporation.

Penny Firth speaking to BBC News was quoted as saying "The explosion was terrifying. The whole sky turned orange and there was a huge mass of dense smoke, we could feel the heat intensify. It is just awful... the smell is horrible,"

The causes of the incident are under investigation, with an official inquiry already begun, although Italian rail unions, are already blaming outdated rolling stock, according to BBC News.