Train carrying crude oil derails, explodes in Alabama

(Reuters) - A 90-car train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in western Alabama in the early hours of Friday morning, spilling oil and leaving eleven cars burning in the rural area.

No injuries have been reported, the train owner, Genesee & Wyoming, said in a statement on Friday.

Twenty of the train's 90 cars derailed, the company said, of which eleven were still on fire. Those cars are being left to burn down, which could take up to 24 hours.

Friday's accident appears to be one of the most dramatic in of its kind the United States since trafficking of crude by rail began to increase with the growth of shale oil production three years ago. A major derailment killed 47 people in Canada this summer when a train barreled into the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic and exploded, fuelling a push for tougher standards for oil rail shipments.

Crude oil did spill on Friday, though it does not appear to be heading to nearby waterways, Genesee said.

Mr Don Hartley, regional coordinator for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said three cars had a "blevy, where pressure builds up and blows a hole", and that started the fire.

The train was carrying crude from Amory, Mississippi, to a refinery in Walnut Hill, Florida, the Genesee spokesman said.

Mr Hartley said the train was originally coming from North Dakota.

So far there are no details on the cause.

"We don't have a cause yet, that will be determined with the organization," said a Genesee & Wyoming spokesman.

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