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Train carrying chemicals derails in North Carolina, causes evacuations

By Jim Brumm

WILMINGTON, North Carolina (Reuters) - A freight train carrying a hazardous ammonia product derailed in North Carolina on Saturday, causing authorities to evacuate several hundred people in the rural community of Bladenboro in the southeastern part of the state.

Bladen County Sheriff's Department Captain Rodney Hester said 300 to 400 residents and employees of local businesses were evacuated due to the afternoon derailment of nine tank cars in a 105-car, CSX Corp train headed to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Bladen County Emergency Services Director Bradley Kinlaw said no injuries had been reported, but advised people to stay away from downtown Bladenboro, a town of about 1,750 residents about 50 miles (80 miles) northwest of Wilmington.

The cars that derailed were not leaking and CSX specialists were on the scene, officials said. Local television reported late on Saturday that the all-clear had been given for people to return to their homes, but that could not immediately be confirmed.

CSX officials said four of the derailed cars were carrying what were considered to be hazardous materials, according to Wilmington-based television station WECT, an NBC affiliate. One car had anhydrous ammonia, which is a fertilizer, the station reported.

Three others were empty, but a CSX official told the station that since the cars once carried flammable liquid, they were still considered to be hazardous.

Representatives for CSX did not immediately return calls.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Peter Cooney)

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