Train derails into Mississippi River near Wisconsin community

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A train derailment in southwestern Wisconsin on Thursday sent two derailed containers into the Mississippi River, and at least one crew member received medical attention, according to the train’s operator.

The train derailed around 12:15 p.m. local time near the village of De Soto, and all crew members have since been accounted for, according to BNSF Railway.

At least a dozen train cars were off the tracks, according to video that witness Caitlin Nolan shot. Other images on social media, along with the video Nolan shot, show some of the train cars in the river.

Details about what caused the derailment weren’t immediately available.

The Black Hawk Bridge that connects Lansing, Iowa, to western Wisconsin is down, according to a spokesperson with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa.

“The main track is blocked in both directions and an estimated time for reopening the track is not available,” BNSF said in a statement.

BNSF personnel were headed to the scene and the cause of the incident is under investigation, the railway said.

The train was carrying hazardous materials, according to Marc Myhre, a Crawford County emergency management specialist. But none of hazardous materials, believed to be batteries, were in the train cars that went into the river, Myhre said.

BNSF said some of the containers that derailed on shore contained paint and lithium-ion batteries, but neither of the two containers that went into the river contained hazardous materials.

Heavy rain has recently brought parts of the Mississippi River to near flood stage, but the railroad tracks at the site of the derailment were above water, Myhre said.

“It was reported to us that there were hazardous materials on the train itself, but it is not believed to be a concern to the public or the responders at this time as those cars were contained,” Myhre said during a news conference.

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN the agency is gathering information about the derailment. The agency said it has not yet verified whether hazardous materials were on the train.

US Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents the area, said his office was coordinating with state officials, BNSF and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “get answers on what occurred.”

The congressman’s staff was traveling to the site of the derailment and will “continue to monitor the situation and determine next steps,” his statement reads.

Nolan was on her way to college at around noon central time when she saw the derailed train, she told CNN in an interview.

“I didn’t see a fire or smell anything but witnessed multiple cars in the water on both sides of the tracks,” she told CNN. “There hadn’t been any emergency help until after I had passed by,” she said.


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