More than 100 people residing in Edmonton in Canada's rural area of Alberta have been forced to evacuate after 13 cars owned by the Canadian National Railway Co (CNR) derailed on early Saturday morning. No injuries were reported. Two cars, which form part of a trainload carrying crude and liquefied petroleum gas, remain on fire.
The latest incident has prompted environmental activists to call on the concerned Canadian authorities to review its hydro-carbon transportation program.
Logo of Canadian National Railway (Wikimedia)
"I think we need a bigger review on all hydro-carbon transportation in this country," Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner based in Edmonton, was quoted by Toronto Star.
"We're also having massive problems with moving oil by pipelines as well that need to be addressed, and I think a more comprehensive, public review would give us some good answers on how to move forward."
On Saturday, around 1 am local time, 13 out of 134 cars on a CNR train moving to Vancouver from Edmonton got derailed, giving off at least two explosions. Four of the cars were carrying petroleum crude oil, while nine were carrying liquefied petroleum gas.
Residents who were forced to evacuate for safety from the rural hamlet of Gainford have been advised to stay put for another 24 to 72 hours.
Alberta has been placed under a state of emergency. Firefighters on the scene, which number more than 40, have been ordered to cease and desist from the accident site because of its high risk nature. Several of the derailed train cars have been found leaking flammable fuels.
"It is safer to let it vent and burn," Jim Phelan, Parkland County fire chief, said in a news conference.
"As long as we have the fire burning the gas that is being expelled from the pressure vessels, we know where that gas is - and it's safer just to let it flare until the product is consumed," Mr Phalen said.
Louis-Antoine Paquin, spokesman of CNR, Canada's largest railway company, said the company was working with concerned agencies in developing a safety plan that will specifically deal with the remaining LPG cars on fire.
He said the four derailed cars with crude oil were intact and bore no signs of spillage. These have been moved away from the fire, he stressed.
It was only in July when Canada figured in a high-profile rail car derailment accident when a train carrying oil exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47.