January 25, 2019 / 8:56 AM / a month ago

Serbian villagers evacuated as ammonia removed from derailed train

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Authorities in the southern Serbian city of Nis ordered the evacuation of a village on Friday as rescuers began an operation to empty and remove two tanks containing liquid ammonia from a train that partially derailed last week.

The local emergency department moved all 400 residents of f Jasenovik and their livestock to nearby Nis until the operation of emptying the ammonia tanks and putting them back on the railway track has been completed.

Liquid ammonia is toxic and can damage skin and lungs.

“Two thirds of the people will leave in their own cars. There are enough buses for the rest of them,” Darko Bulatovic, a municipal official, told reporters.

Serbia’s railways are in a poor state due to decades-long neglect and lack of investment, and derailments are frequent. In recent years Serbia has borrowed around $1.5 billion from Russia and China to overhaul its railway network.

($1 = 0.8832 euros)

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gareth Jones

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