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Trains Collide Near Hoxie, Arkansas, Killing 2

By Sean Breslin
Published: August 18, 2014

Two trains collided in the early-morning hours Sunday near Hoxie, Arkansas, killing two members of the train crew and forcing residents from their homes, police said.

The town in northeastern Arkansas was jarred awake by the explosion that occurred at about 2:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning, according to KAIT.com. An investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board says the collision involved a train with two locomotives and 86 cars and another with two locomotives and 92 cars.

(MORE: Nearly 100 Dead in Flood Emergency)

Investigator Michael Hiller says the first train was northbound on a single main track early Sunday when a southbound train collided with it. He says they were on the same track.

State police have said two Union Pacific train crew members were killed and two others were injured.

Hiller said the cause of the accident has not been determined and he expects investigators to be on the scene about a week.

Weather conditions do not appear to be a factor in the crash. Skies were clear, temperatures were hovering around 80 degrees and winds up to 10 mph were present.

Authorities asked about 500 people within 1 1/2 miles of the collision to leave their homes following the crash because of the fire, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office said. Most were allowed to return home by midmorning Sunday, according to county Emergency Management Director Buddy Williams.

"The fire involved diesel and also there was a tank car that ruptured and it contained an (unknown) alcoholic beverage," Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Kendell Snyder said. He said there were no other leaks.

According to Region 8 News, evacuation orders were lifted late Sunday morning.

"We don't know the cause of the accident. We have no idea why these trains were on the same line," Williams said, noting no local residents were hurt.

Evacuations began around 3:30 a.m. and authorities kept the area clear for the rest of the morning, the report added. All roads leading into Hoxie, including Highways 67 and 63, were closed after the explosion, according to WREG.com.

It's at least the second head-on collision involving UP trains since 2012, when two collided in the Oklahoma Panhandle that June, which killed three crew members and injured a fourth.

Hoxie is located roughly 23 miles northwest of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Below are some images from the area as the story continues to develop. Check back frequently for updates.

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