A semitruck carrying a toxic substance overturned in Illinois, leading to multiple fatalities and the release of anhydrous ammonia. This tragic incident prompted the immediate evacuation of nearby residents.
“We have a lot of brave firemen, EMT, hazmat specialists, police officers that are working on this scene as we speak,” Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns said. The exact number of casualties remained uncertain at the time of his address. Authorities had speculated about five fatalities, a figure later deemed premature.
“I am sorry to say that we do have multiple fatalities,” Kuhns said. “And I’m sorry to say I don’t have that exact number for you.” The accident, occurring near Teutopolis, unleashed a large plume of anhydrous ammonia on the roadway, creating perilous air conditions in the northeast area of Teutopolis. Emergency responders had to wait for the mitigation of these hazardous conditions before embarking on their rescue and containment operations.
The accident involved multiple vehicles, including the ill-fated tanker. It occurred about a half-mile east of Teutopolis on U.S. Highway 40 on Friday at about 9:25 p.m., as reported by the Illinois State Police. The tanker began leaking after rolling over in a ditch, according to Tim McMahon, chief of the Teutopolis Fire Protection District. Authorities continued to bar vehicles from accessing the area.
Kuhns did not have information on whether the deaths were the result of the crash itself or the chemical leak. He acknowledged the extensive scale of the accident scene. He expressed his understanding of the inconvenience caused by the investigation and the evacuation, urging the public for patience as the authorities focused their resources on managing the spill and the situation.
Anhydrous ammonia, known for its toxicity, poses a significant health hazard if not handled with utmost care. Inhalation can lead to severe respiratory injuries and at higher concentrations, it can be fatal. It is also corrosive, capable of causing burns to the skin and eyes.
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