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Fiery train crash forces W Virginia towns to evacuate

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Media captionAs Laura Westbrook reports, the train was carrying more than 100 tankers of oil

Two West Virginia towns have been evacuated after a freight train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames.

Local websites published images of large flames and a thick plume of black smoke near a partly frozen river.

At least 14 railway wagons were affected and one plunged into the Kanawha River, state officials said.

There are also reports that one crashed into a house, but there were no initial reports of fatalities.

Rail company CSX said in a statement that one person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.

Residents of Adena Village and Boomer have been urged to evacuate after the accident happened at 13:30 (18:30 GMT).

Darrin McGuffin, about a quarter of a mile from the scene, told the BBC the fire was still out of control late in the afternoon.

He estimated that about half a mile of the river was burning.

Image copyright Darrin McGuffin
Image copyright Randy Slayton
Image copyright Kanawha County Commission

Lawrence Messina, of the State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, told the BBC that the wagon that fell into the river is leaking oil.

State emergency response and environmental officials headed to the scene - a rural coal-mining area near Montgomery.

West Virginia American Water shut down a water treatment plant, located three miles away, an hour after the derailment, spokeswoman Laura Jordan said. The plant serves about 2,000 customers.

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Media captionDarrin McGuffin was working at a metal plant near the derailment

The state was under a winter storm warning and getting heavy snowfall at times, with as much as five inches in some places. It is unclear whether the snow contributed to the crash.

The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 wagons and was travelling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Virginia.

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