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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Baltimore toxic scare abates
Smoke coming from tunnel entrance
Smoke billows from rail tunnel
Firefighters in Baltimore have succeeded in removing all the hazardous chemical cars from a derailed train that caught fire in a city tunnel.

The cars had been carrying hydrochloric acid and flammable chemicals, gallons of which leaked onto the track.

Baseball players with firefighters
Orioles players congratulate firefighters
The accident occurred on Wednesday, but by Saturday night, there were still six freight cars stuck in the tunnel.

They are to be removed one by one on Sunday, fire officials said.

The Baltimore Orioles baseball team was able to play a Saturday evening game, after having to cancel three games on previous days.

City officials now have to decide whether the main city thoroughfare, Howard Avenue, can be opened for the working week on Monday.

Officials say the cause of the derailment, which took place on Wednesday afternoon, is still unknown.

Pall of smoke

At the height of the fire, much of central Baltimore was covered in a pall of smoke, and many of its central thoroughfares were closed to traffic.

Firefighters leaving tunnel
Exhausted firefighters emerge from tunnel
Shortly after the accident, a main water drain collapsed into the tunnel, creating further havoc.

It took 100 firefighters two days to bring the fire under control, as they tried to keep the acid spill away from the burning cars in the 60-car train.

The train drivers, who uncoupled their locomotives when the derailment took place, escaped without injury.

The main East Coast route for freight train traffic remains blocked.

See also:

21 Jul 01 | Americas
Baltimore fire burns for third day
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