Five people have been killed and five more were seriously injured after a toxic cargo truck carrying ammonia overturned in Illinois.
The hazardous substance leaked from the vehicle after the accident, causing a huge plume of noxious smoke to fill the sky while a mass evacuation of hundreds of local residents in Teutopolis was instated, officials said Saturday.
The semitruck was carrying caustic anhydrous ammonia, and toppled at around 9:25 on Friday evening. The resulting run-off totaled more than half of the vehicles 7,500 gallon load, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhoades revealed after the spill that the tragedy saw three people from the same family – one adult and two children under 12 – lose their lives.
Rhodes added that the other two fatalities involved motorists from out of the state, and five other people were airlifted to hospital.
Five people have been killed and five more were seriously injured after a toxic truck carrying ammonia overturned in Illinois
The names of those deceased of killed in the accident have not been released by authorities.
At a Saturday morning press conference, Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns said emergency crews worked overnight Saturday on the scene, with a large plume from the leak seen billowing into the sky.
First responders also struggled to access the crash site due to the highly noxious substance spilling out into the surrounding area.
‘We have a lot of brave firemen, EMT, hazmat specialists, police officers that are working on this scene as we speak,’ Kuhns said.
He added that the plume was a ‘cloud of anhydrous ammonia’, which caused ‘terribly dangerous air conditions in the northeast area of Teutopolis.’
‘Because of these conditions, the emergency responders had to wait. They had to mitigate the conditions before they could really get to work on it, and it was a fairly large area,’ he added.
Footage after the incident saw emergency crews being hosed down with water after coming into contact with the area.
Cleanup procedures are underway in the area, with private and federal environmental contractors summoned to the town of roughly 1,600 people.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday it will review the crash, spokesperson Jennifer Gabris told The Associated Press.
Crews also had to contend with wind gusts hampering their efforts.
‘The wind changed three or four different times on us,’ said Tim McMahon, chief of the Teutopolis Fire Protection District. ‘That’s another reason we got crews out in different places, reporting back on which way the wind’s going.’