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50 evacuated after chemical train derailment in Mississippi

Courtesy of Regina Hall

A train carrying chemicals derailed in New Augusta, Miss. on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

About 50 people in southeast Mississippi were forced from their homes Friday after 18 cars of an 85-car train carrying chemicals derailed, officials said.

The train traveling from Jackson, Miss., to Mobile, Ala., derailed at 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) Friday in New Augusta, Miss., according to the Mississippi Department of Motor Vehicles. 

No one was hurt in the accident, but the 50 people living within a half-mile radius  were evacuated because the train was carrying an ethanol-based product that spilled, said New Augusta Sheriff Jimmy Smith. 

Out of precaution, a nearby highway was also shut down in both directions because ethanol is highly flammable, although no fire was sparked by the derailment.

"We are just trying to get everything ...  cleaned up," said Smith, according to NBC affiliate WDAM.

The derailment was being investigated, but Smith said the incident was not believed to be the product of a criminal act.

The Red Cross sent volunteers to New Augusta to set up a shelter for those who were displaced. "Residents should pack as if they are going on a small one- to two-day camping trip," said Angie Grajeda, a Red Cross disaster program manager.

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