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1 dead after Belgian train derailment

From Pierre Meilhan, CNN
May 4, 2013 -- Updated 1719 GMT (0119 HKT)
The freight train derailed in the northwestern part of Belgium, between Schellebelle and Wetteren.
The freight train derailed in the northwestern part of Belgium, between Schellebelle and Wetteren.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • One person was killed after a train derailed in Belgium
  • 17 others were injured, governor's spokesman says
  • The train was carrying a toxic chemical compound

(CNN) -- One person was killed and 17 others injured after a freight train derailed in northwestern Belgium, a local official told CNN.

Several explosions and a fire broke out following the derailment, according to Infrabel, the state-owned company that operates Belgian railways.

The exact cause of the reported death was not immediately known.

The train, owned the by the Belgian freight company SNCB Logistics, derailed between the towns of Schellebelle and Wetteren, near Ghent.

Some 350 area residents were evacuated from the area because some of the derailed wagons were carrying the toxic chemical compound acrylonitrile, said Peter Mertens spokesman for the local governor. Mertens reported the casualties.

Exposure to acrylonitrile, can cause mucus membrane irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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