Police: Multiple fatalities after truck carrying anhydrous ammonia overturns in Illinois

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. — Multiple people were killed in a crash Friday night involving a truck that was carrying ammonia near Teutopolis, Illinois.

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Update at 8:10 a.m. EDT Oct. 1: Teutopolis Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Joe Holomy said late Saturday night that testing was conducted and it was all right for residents to return home, according to The Associated Press.

Update at 3:36 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: Officials confirmed, according to The Associated Press, that five people were killed and five others were seriously injured in the crash.

The Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said, according to the AP, that the five dead included three from the same family which includes two children and one adult. The other two killed were drivers from out of state who drove through the area.

Five people were also airlifted to the hospital, the AP reported. Their conditions are unknown.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement that the truck carrying the ammonia was hauling about 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia at the time of the crash. Authorities estimate about 4,000 galloons were released.

The agency said that about 500 people have been evacuated from the area.

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, Jennifer Garbris, said that the agency is investigating the incident that happened Friday evening, according to The Associated Press.

“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 in a news conference Saturday, according to the AP.

Kuhns in a Facebook post said “this is a complicated and dangerous release.”

Officials have not yet confirmed how may people were killed or injured, according to the AP. At first, Illinois State Police spokesperson Melaney Arnold said that there were five deaths but later said that it was “a premature determination amid the early confusion.”

Original story: Illinois State Police said just before 9:30 p.m. Friday, that troopers were notified about a crash on U.S. 40, which is about a half-mile east of Teutopolis. The crash involved multiple vehicles including a semitruck that was leaking anhydrous ammonia.

Police say that people within about a mile radius of the crash have been evacuated due to “the plume from the ammonia leak.” Northeastern parts of Teutopolis have been evacuated. Multiple deaths have been reported.

At the scene, five deaths were reported, according to WCIA.

The highway between Teutopolis and Montrose is closed, according to The Associated Press.

“Crews are working to contain the leak while first responders and emergency workers continue to respond to the incident,” police say. According to CNN, crews are still in the area Saturday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ammonia is “a toxic gas or liquid that, when concentrated, is corrosive to tissues upon contact.” Exposure to ammonia in “sufficient quantities” can be deadly. High levels of ammonia can irritate and burn your skin, mouth, throat, lungs and eyes, according to CNN.

Anhydrous ammonia is toxic, the AP reported.

Anhydrous ammonia “is essentially pure (over 99%) ammonia,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “‘Anhydrous’ is a Greek word meaning ‘without water;’ therefore, anhydrous ammonia in ammonia without water,” CNN reported.

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