Evacuation order lifted after Ohio train derailment

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk 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)

(NewsNation) — The evacuation order in East Palestine, Ohio, following a weekend train derailment has been lifted for residents, meaning around 5,000 people can return home.

About 50 freight cars, including 10 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.

Federal investigators say the fiery crash happened due to a mechanical issue with a rail car axle.

No injuries to crew, residents or first responders have been reported as a result of the train derailment. But some people have complained of smelling chlorine or smoke and having headaches.

The derailment has sparked new concerns concerning dangerous chemicals. Authorities warned that burning vinyl chloride in five of the derailed tanker cars would send hydrogen chloride and phosgene into the air. Samples taken from the evacuation area show it is safe, according to East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick.

A representative with the Environmental Protection Agency said monitoring has shown unconcerning levels and that the air quality is safe.

An East Palestine business owner and two other residents have filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, alleging negligence and exposure to toxic substances.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a news conference about the train derailment Wednesday afternoon, where NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert was arrested after giving a live report. The exact reasoning behind the arrest is unclear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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