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TWO freight trains collided in Texas today, killing an engine driver, derailing 40 cars and releasing clouds of chlorine and ammonium nitrate that shut down two busy roads.
The gas clouds drifted up to 16km to the SeaWorld amusement park, near San Antonio, before dissipating.
The four leaking cars were believed to have been left nearly empty, said Fire Department spokesman Randy Jenkins.
Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Ray Trevino confirmed the engineer's death, but no details were available.
Fifteen people, six of them from SeaWorld, were treated for minor respiratory irritation, Mr Jenkins said.
A Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train was pulling onto a siding when it was struck by a Union Pacific freight train, said Joe Faust, a spokesman for Fort Worth-based Burlington.
Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said his company's train was travelling about 30kph at the time. He said 23 of the 74 UP cars derailed, including four locomotives. Seventeen BN cars derailed.
No evacuations were ordered, but two heavily travelled roads in the area were closed.
The train collision was the third in Texas in less than two months.
An engineer died and four crew members were injured on May 19 when two trains struck head-on about 80 km north of Dallas. Nearly two dozen rail cars derailed.
On May 3, two freight trains collided just south of downtown San Antonio, injuring three people, derailing some cars and spilling about 21,200 litres of diesel fuel into the San Antonio River.
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