A railway tank car from a freight train overturned at around 5:30 p.m caused an ammonia leak on Sunday, December 25, 2022, releasing tons of toxic gas into the air in the Pirot region of southeastern Serbia.
An accident that killed two people and intoxicated 51 others, according to the mayor of the city in southeastern Serbia.
“Seven people were taken to (hospital) in Nis,” the nearest big city, Vasic told a news conference.
He added that a state of emergency had been called “in part of Pirot”, a town of around 60,000 inhabitants, a measure which means in particular the closure of schools.
Authorities have called on residents of the area not to leave their homes and traffic has been halted on several roads.
The train was made up of 20 tank cars carrying toxic materials from neighboring Bulgaria, state-owned rail freight company Srbija Kargo said. The company declared the train derailed “outside the urban area” and there were no casualties or injuries at the crash site. A security perimeter of four kilometers has been set up as a precaution, according to the same source.
Mr. Predrag Momcilovic, in charge of environmental issues within the environmentalist party “Don’t let Belgrade drown”, pointed to the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior in this disaster that occurred on a section of railway line which he denounces as dilapidated and poorly maintained.
“For decades, no investment has been made on this railway line and this is not the first time that a derailment has occurred. But this time it caused dangerous gas leaks,” he said.
A project to build a high-speed rail line, linking Budapest to Belgrade, is underway in the region. The Ministry of the Interior has already formed two commissions to investigate this derailment.