CSX train derails in Kentucky, spilling molten sulfur

(Reuters) – A train derailment involving 16 cars, two of which spilled molten sulfur, sparked a fire north of Livingston, Kentucky, railroad operator CSX said on Wednesday, prompting officials to tell residents to evacuate.

The cause of the derailment and the scale of the fire were not immediately clear, though ABC News said one crew member suffered minor injuries.

“Local officials are encouraging those in the town of Livingston to evacuate,” the office of Governor Andy Beshear said in a statement, urging families to stay clear of the area as authorities respond to the incident.

A state of emergency has been declared in the state’s Rockcastle county, Beshear said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“We will work together with local authorities to secure the area and safety is our top priority as we develop a recovery plan,” CSX said on its website, adding that the burning of molten sulphur releases sulphur dioxide gas.

Giving initial details of the incident, which took place at about 2:23 p.m., it said at least 16 cars were involved, two carrying molten sulphur that lost some of their contents, which then caught fire.

Short-term exposure to colourless sulphur dioxide can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) says on its website, putting at risk sufferers of asthma, particularly children.

The incident blocked traffic in both directions along a stretch of U.S. Highway 25, and it was not immediately clear how soon the flow would resume, county transport officials said in a post on Facebook.

(Reporting by Harshit Verma and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)