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LAFAYETTE, La.Train derailment, acid leak force thousands to evacuate

Six cars of a freight train derailed Saturday, including one that began leaking hydrochloric acid, causing thousands of people to evacuate homes, businesses and a nursing home within one mile of the wreck.

The spilled acid sent a toxic cloud over the area, and at least five people, including two railroad workers, were taken to a hospital and treated after complaining of skin and eye irritation, said Lafayette Parish sheriff's Lt. Craig Stansbury.

A nursing home with 161 residents was evacuated, said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, the state health officer. About 35 of the residents deemed too frail to travel were taken to area hospitals, he said.

Hydrochloric acid can cause respiratory problems and skin and eye irritation, according to Joe Faust, a spokesman for the Texas-based BNSF Railway that operated the train.

An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of the acid was spilled, he said. The acid formed a yellowish pool at the site of the derailment.

A train car carrying ethylene oxide, used in agricultural products and as a sterilizer for medical supplies, was overturned but was not leaking, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said.

BNSF was using lime to neutralize the hydrochloric acid. Cleanup workers will then either dig or vacuum up the acid and lift the cars back onto the track.

Faust said residents wouldn't be allowed back into the area until officials were certain the hazardous material was gone.


Man shoots three

at church festival

A man with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at a church festival Saturday morning, wounding his ex-wife and two bystanders before festivalgoers grabbed him and held him for police, authorities and a church official said.

The gunman's identity was not immediately released.

Father Robert Milbauer, pastor of the St. John Baptist de la Salle Roman Catholic parish, said about 50 people were setting up booths when the gunfire erupted.

The man's 30-year-old ex-wife was hospitalized in stable condition, police Capt. Steven Ruiz said. A 45-year-old man was shot in the chest and was in critical condition, and another man, 47, was in stable condition with a leg wound, Ruiz said. Their identities were not immediately released.

The suspect walked away after the shooting but was grabbed by bystanders, one of whom was an off-duty police officer.

"They managed to overtake him and held him down," Ruiz said. "I'm told that he was in the process of possibly reloading."


Detroit: American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. boosted its wage offer and increased the payments it will give workers to take a wage cut as part of a tentative agreement that could settle an 11-week strike by the United Auto Workers union, a person briefed on the deal said Saturday. The work stoppage has affected more than 30 General Motors plants and decreased production by 230,000 vehicles through April. GM also said the strike cost the company $800-million in the first quarter.

CHICAGO: Federal officials said Saturday that Chicago-based JSM Meat Holdings Co. is recalling beef products distributed in 11 states, including Florida, because of possible E. coli contamination. Included are 30-pound and 60-pound boxes and 47-gallon barrels of "MORREALE MEAT" beef products.

LUDLOW, Calif.: Authorities say a charter bus crash in the Southern California desert killed one person and injured 22 Saturday.

Times wires

LAFAYETTE, La.Train derailment, acid leak force thousands to evacuate 05/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 2:00pm]
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