Massive explosion after crude oil train collision

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Originally published on December 31, 2013

An area in the central part of the U.S. state of North Dakota was rocked by a series of powerful explosions on Monday afternoon following a two-train collision.

Earlier on Monday, a train carrying soybeans derailed near the town of Casselton. At around 2:00 p.m. on Monday, a train pulling 104-cars of crude oil crashed into the derailed cars, triggering a massive fireball that reached some 100 feet into the sky. Video shot by private citizens and uploaded to the Internet show billowing plumes of black, acrid smoke covering the area following the huge fireball.

Casselton officials ordered the evacuation of the town and told residents in a five-mile radius to leave the area as there are fears more of the train cars could ignite.

Rescue crews decoupled around half the oil cars, but 10 of the cars continued to burn as officials discuss ways of stopping the flames from engulfing the remaining cars. Reports say trucks carrying sand were being sent to assist firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze.

In a report by Reuters, safety concerns were highlighted as the state's booming oil industry has caused a huge increase in the amount of oil being shipped by rail from the Bakken oil fields. Around two-thirds of crude oil pumped from North Dakota is shipped by rail and some are concerned more such accidents could occur.

Both of the trains involved in the incident were operated by the BNSF Railway Company, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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