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More Than a Dozen Trains Have Derailed in the U.S. This Year


The explosive train derailment that recently led to the evacuation of an Ohio town was among more than a dozen reported rail wrecks in the U.S. since the year began.

On February 3, a tanker train derailed in the Ohio town of East Palestine, near the state border with Pennsylvania. The crash led to multiple explosions and chemical leaks, prompting the governors of both states to issue evacuation notices for the town and its surrounding areas. Controlled burns of the vinyl chloride from the train's tanks were initiated, with residents warned that the air could be flooded with dangerous gases like phosgene and hydrogen chloride.

The fiery crash was one of more than a dozen train derailments reported in the U.S. this year, only 1 1/2 months in. Another wreck, on January 19, also occurred in Ohio, with several train cars stretching over miles derailing between the towns of Trinway and Adam's Mill, according to the Times Recorder. It was considerably less destructive than the one in East Palestine, as the cars were empty, though cleanup efforts were projected to last for a week.

A representational image of a train derailment is pictured. Over a dozen such train wrecks have been reported this year, including the recent explosive one in East Palestine, Ohio. WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

Most of the reported crashes this year, three in total, occurred in South Carolina, though one has not been fully confirmed by Newsweek. The first took place January 9 in Lake City, with 20 cars derailing after the train struck an empty car left on the tracks. No injuries or deaths were reported. The next one occurred near Loris January 21, involving multiple cars carrying rocks and gravel tipping, which tipped over. The third incident, reportedly near Enoree on Monday, remains a developing story, with few details available.

Two other crashes took place in remote parts of California, with at least one reportedly carrying grain. No details emerged about the other train's cargo, though officials did confirm that the derailment did not result in any leaks.

A pair of derailments notably occurred in major metro areas. On February 1, a train fell off the tracks in Detroit, Michigan, leaving several cars hanging over the side of a bridge. The other incident involved a passenger train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which resulted in no deaths or injuries.

The remaining derailments that Newsweek could verify took place in Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana and Texas. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that 54,539 train derailments occurred in the U.S. from 1990 to 2021, an average of 1,704 per year. While that statistic may be higher than most would expect, deaths from derailments are much less common, with the bureau's findings placing the yearly average at four since 1990.

Newsweek has reached out to the U.S. Department of Transportation for comment.

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