Gas havoc after US rail crash

Alberton - This Montana town was evacuated yesterday when a train was derailed and one of its tankers leaked chlorine. At least 37 people with breathing problems were taken to hospitals and three were reported to be in a critical condition. The National Guard said 1,000 people were evacuated from the area, in eastern Montana, within four hours after the accident, including the 400 residents of Alberton.

Bill Silverman, co-ordinator of the Missoula County Disaster and Emergency Services, said five tankers were derailed; four contained chlorine and one of those overturned and leaked. Bill Reed, chief of the Missoula Rural Fire Department, said: "It's probably empty now, or nearly so. That's not the concern now. The big concern is the condition of the other cars."

Sandy Neis, who lives two miles from the derailment, said that the the evacuation was swift. "I got dressed, got my daughter dressed and grabbed the dog," she said. She and her daughter, Katie, 6, and her husband, Rich, were among those who went to an evacuation centre in Frenchtown, 12 miles to the east.