Interesting coincidence that this Ukrainian disaster occured just one day after the Japan Quake...
Even more interesting is that the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister compared it to the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster that plagued the Ukraine in 1986.
A freight train carrying yellow phosphorus derailed in western Ukraine, causing a fire that produced a giant poison cloud that contaminated the area around 14 villages, emergency officials said Tuesday.
Of the freight train's 58 cars, 15 overturned and six caught fire.Of the freight train's 58 cars, 15 overturned and six caught fire.
Twenty people, including 10 local residents, were poisoned and hospitalized, said Ihor Halyavinsky, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, adding there was no threat to their lives.
Of the 11,000 people who live in the contaminated area, 815 were removed, said Ihor Krol, the spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry.
The train, which was travelling from Kazakhstan to Poland, derailed Monday evening near Lviv on the Polish border. Of the train's 58 cars, 15 overturned and six caught fire, Krol said.
Rescuers extinguished the fire late Monday but continued to work at the site.
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, who was at the site, compared the accident to the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986.
"A disaster has happened. After the Chernobyl catastrophe we are dealing with a case that can pose a real threat for our people," said Kuzmuk. "It is an extraordinary event, the consequences of which cannot be predicted."
Yellow phosphorus is highly inflammable and can catch fire spontaneously on contact with air at temperatures higher than 40 C, emitting a characteristic garlic smell when it burns. It is also highly toxic, causing liver damage if eaten.
The poison cloud produced by the fire contaminated 90 square kilometres containing 14 villages, Krol said. Local residents were advised to stay inside, not to use well water, eat vegetables from their gardens or drink the milk produced by their cows.
Ukrainian television Channel 5 reported that residents in several villages located in the contaminated area were not informed of the safety rules after the accident.
Transport Minister Mykola Rudkosvsky said a commission was working at the scene to determine the cause of the accident. He said it was too early to say what caused the derailment, but a person who was accompanying the cargo on the train "heard a plop and then he saw the second car derailing."
Phosphorus compounds are chiefly used in fertilizers, although they are important components of pesticides, toothpaste, detergents as well as explosives, nerve agents and fireworks.
[url=http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/07/17/ukraine-derail.html]Original Link - CBC News[/url]