Ohio Gov. orders evacuations near derailment

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed Friday night in East Palestine, Ohio are still on fire at mid-day Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (NewsNation) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has issued urgent evacuation orders Sunday evening for those living within a mile of the East Palestine train derailment, saying there could be an explosion due to a tanker failure.

“Within the last two hours, a drastic temperature change has taken place in a rail car, and there is now the potential of a catastrophic tanker failure which could cause an explosion with the potential of deadly shrapnel traveling up to a mile,” DeWine said.

While authorities are working to prevent an explosion from happening, the state is asking residents within a mile of the derailment site to leave the area immediately.

The governor’s office says most residents have already evacuated, but local officials say more than 500 people are currently refusing to leave their homes. According to the Columbiana County Sheriff, people with children who decline to evacuate may be subject to arrest.

DeWine activated the Ohio National Guard to help at the scene. The deployment comes after about 50 freight cars, some carrying hazardous materials, derailed in East Palestine at around 9 p.m. Friday.

Rail operator Norfolk Southern said the train was carrying products from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania, at the time of the derailment.

No injuries to crew, residents or first responders have been reported. Previous evacuation orders put in place by authorities covered the homes of about 1,500 to 2,000 of the town’s 4,800 to 4,900 residents.

The governor’s office says those who need help leaving the area should call 330-426-4341.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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