China: Earthquake Derailed Freight Train, Which Caught Fire

A 40-car freight train derailed and caught fire in northern China during the country's massive earthquake and was still burning Tuesday evening, a railway official said. One injury was reported.

The train, including 13 tank cars filled with gasoline, derailed and burst into flames Monday in Gansu province when the quake cut a major rail line, Wang Yongping, spokesman for the Ministry of Railways said. It was still on fire at 5 p.m. Tuesday, more than 26 hours after the accident, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The heat of the fire could be felt 100 meters away.

There were fears the tank cars could explode, Xinhua reported, and more than 900 local residents were evacuated and firefighters were moved 4 miles from the crash site in Gansu's Huixian county, north of Sichuan province.

Wang said all the railway lines affected by the quake in Sichuan province had been reopened, apart from the line with the burning freight train. That railway runs from Baoji in industrial northern Shaanxi province to Guangyuan in Sichuan.

"We are still considering that area a rescue zone," he said. He added that one train conductor was hurt in the crash.

The earthquake stranded trains and passengers on major rail lines leading into the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu, 60 miles southeast of the quake epicenter, Xinhua said. At least 149 cargo trains and 31 passenger trains were affected and passengers were being moved to safety Tuesday.

More than 1,000 workers were trying to repair the damaged line but it was not known when traffic would resume, Xinhua said.

The railway bureau in Gansu could not be reached for comment.