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Huge blaze as Russian fuel tanks derail, thousands flee (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

At least 44 people have been injured after a cargo train derailed in Russia’s south with over 50 fuel tanks running off the tracks. One person has been reported missing. Almost 3,000 were evacuated from the nearby area.

Over 50 rail cars of a 71-car-long cargo train derailed at the Belaya Kalitva station in Russia’s Rostov region at around 2 am local time.

Up to 10 cars have caught fire as a result of the accident, and heavy smoke is reported at the scene. The fire had been localized at around 6 am local time.

Photo from mchs.gov.ru

“As a result of the accident, one of the cars with diesel fuel tank started the fire, engulfing an area of 1.5 thousand square meters,” Interfax quoted the local Emergencies Ministry representative.

At least 44 people were admitted to the hospital with injuries and burns. Seventeen of them including the locomotive driver have been hospitalized, one in critical condition.

Photo from mchs.gov.ru

The official representative of the North Caucasian railway Evgeny Boevets told Interfax that during the derailment one of the cars released propane gas, enabling the flames spread to the locomotive.

"According to preliminary information, there was no explosion, instead, the tank caught fire," said the source.

Despite the leakage of toxic methylene chloride, the concentration of toxic chemicals is not life-threatening, RIA Novosti quoted local authorities as saying.

At least 2,700 people have been evacuated from the area around the crash site and moved to temporary shelter in the local community center. Nearby houses were severely damaged in the blast, with most windows in the area shattered by the shockwave.

Over 190 emergency workers and 48 pieces of equipment were at the scene battling the fire. It will take at least two days to clean up the area after the incident, local authorities reported.

Photo from mchs.gov.ru