EXPLODING freight cars full of ethanol made for a dramatic early morning scene in Ohio's capital on Wednesday, but officials said the train derailment that led to a hurried evacuation of an urban neighborhood could have been much worse.
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a 10-person team to investigate the derailment on the Norfolk Southern Corp tracks, which led to spectacular explosions and the burning of three tank cars each carrying 30,000 gallons of ethanol.
Officials said they don't know yet what caused the accident, which occurred at around 2 a.m. in an industrial area near Interstate 71, north of downtown. The explosions were felt for blocks and sent flames shooting high in the air.
Two people were injured while walking on the tracks to investigate when a second explosion occurred. Officials said they went to the hospital themselves with minor injuries.
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who later Wednesday visited a temporary Red Cross shelter set up for evacuees, said the accident could have been worse if it had occurred in an area where more people lived.