Norfolk Southern Opens Aiken, S.C. Accident Assistance Center Following Crash; Thousands Leave Homes

January 6, 2005

Norfolk Southern Railway has opened its local assistance center to serve local residents who have incurred loss, inconvenience or personal injury as a result of the railroad accident Thursday morning at Graniteville, South Carolina.

Aiken County officials said at least eight people died following the incident, and thousands have been ordered to leave their homes. At least 191 people were reportedly taken to various hospitals for treatment following a chemical spill from the wreckage.

The train with 42 cars struck a train with one locomotive and two cars at a textile mill in Graniteville about 2:40 a.m. A railroad spokesman reported three cars were carrying 90 tons of chlorine.

Just after 4 p.m., a mandatory evacuation was ordered for a one-mile radius around the crash site. Officials said the chlorine gas could fan out as the humidity increases. The evacuation involves some 5,400 residents.

The local assistance center will be open until 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6, and will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 7. Residents who come to the center will be able to speak with Norfolk Southern officials. Representatives of the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health also will be at the center to respond to questions and concerns from the public.

The center is located at the First Presbyterian Church, 224 Barnwell Ave. NW, in Aiken. A telephone number for the center will be announced soon.

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