July 9, 2008

Train Plows into Mississippi River

A freight train derailed into the Mississippi River in Iowa Wednesday when it hit tracks mangled by a boulder freed from a rain-soaked bluff, authorities said.

Two crew members of the Iowa Chicago and Eastern train suffered minor injuries in the 3 a.m. accident four miles south of Guttenberg, The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette reported.

Four diesel locomotives were reported to have plunged at least partially into the river, state Department of Natural Resources officials said. DNR conservation officers used boats to deploy devices to contain leaking diesel fuel and transmission oil, which was reported to have spread five miles downstream. The area was closed to boat traffic as of noon Wednesday.

Five other rail cars spilled grain and two cars carrying ethanol derailed near the water but did not appear to be leaking, the DNR said. About 75 cars stayed on the track.

The boulder that tore up the tracks just hours before the train reached that point was described as weighing about 30 tons.