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Rail cars perch over Bow Rover

5 rail cars carrying hazardous flammable product hang over Bow River near Calgary

June 27, 2013

Five rail cars carrying hazardous petroleum products derailed on a broken bridge over the swollen Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, today, perching perilously close to the water as emergency crews rushed to prevent a spill.

Bruce Burrell, Calgary Emergency Management Agency director, said the bridge had dropped at least two feet in an hour and a half. However, as of 9 a.m. MT, emergency officials said the bridge hadn’t dropped any lower.

The bridge appears to have buckled, said Cam Uzeloc, Calgary’s acting fire chief.

Efforts were under way to keep the cars from falling off the slowly sagging bridge and then pump out the yet-unspecified but potentially flammable liquid. No injuries were reported. Each car could have 80,000 pounds of the flammable product, said Uzeloc.

The bridge, southeast of downtown Calgary, typically sits about 25 feet above the water level. Water levels remain high after last week’s flood.

Both the Bow and Elbow rivers that run through Calgary burst their banks when heavy rain pounded southern regions of Alberta last week.

City of Calgary bridges have been inspected three times and are safe, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday at a news conference.

The mayor addressed concerns after the train derailed on a bridge owned by Canadian Pacific Railway. While city bridge inspectors have been checking the structural integrity of Calgary bridges since the flood, they did not have the authority to inspect the Bonnybrook Bridge.

Transportation Safety Board officials are on the way to the scene, in addition to Calgary police, EMS and fire department officials.

About a kilometer around the industrial area has been evacuated. There are no homes within the evacuation zone, but several businesses are affected, the city says.

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