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US probes train derailment, blast

ROSEDALE, Maryland: A chemical-carrying freight train collided with a garbage truck, derailed and exploded at a rail crossing outside Baltimore, causing fires that were under control by yesterday morning, authorities said.
In the third serious derailment in the United States this month, a dozen or so rail cars — at least one carrying hazardous materials — went off the tracks Tuesday afternoon in Rosedale, Maryland, a suburb east of Baltimore. Several rail cars caught fire, sending a plume of black and gray smoke into the air that could be seen for miles (kilometers), and an explosion rattled homes at least a half-mile away.
While local officials breathed a sigh of relief that only one person — the garbage truck driver — was seriously injured and that the chemical fire didn’t pose a greater risk to nearby residents, some areas of inquiry for investigators were beginning to take shape.
Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board said late Tuesday that the collision occurred at a private crossing where the only marking was a stop sign. He said it wasn’t clear why the truck was crossing the tracks or whether it was authorized to be there.
The truck driver, 50-year-old John J. Alban Jr., was in serious condition Tuesday night at Maryland Shock Trauma, a hospital spokeswoman said. Two CSX Transportation Inc. train workers for aboard weren’t hurt.
Even hours after the blast, the thick plume of black smoke could be seen for miles and had drifted and covered the eastern part of Baltimore. Later, the smoke that was left had lightened considerably, changing from black to gray, and Schultz announced early Wednesday that the fire was called under control late Tuesday just before midnight.