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Accident Report Detail

Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy R.R. Co., Train 64 and Train 824, Derailment and Collision with Tank Car Explosion

Executive Summary

At about 6:30 a.m., on February 18, 1969, Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Train No. 64 derailed the 72nd to the 90th cars, inclusive, at a turnout located on the spiral of a 2° curve as the train was entering Crete, Nebraska, at a speed of about 52 miles per hour. The derailed cars struck standing cars on a siding south of the main track and the cars of train 824 standing on a track north of the main track. A tank car in train 824 was completely fractured on impact with the derailed cars which released the lading of 29,200 gallons of anhydrous ammonia into the atmosphere. A gas cloud was formed which blanketed the surrounding area for a considerable time due to the weather conditions. Three trespassers riding on train 64 were killed as a result of the derailment and six people were killed and 53 were injured as a result of exposure to the cloud of ammonia.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the derailment was caused by the movement of a rail of the turnout due to lateral forces produced by the locomotive as it moved over track which had alignment and surface deficiencies. The cause of the complete failure of the tank car which released the poisonous gas, following derailment, was a heavy blow delivered to the head of the tank car by the coupler of another car and the brittleness of the tank car steel at the ambient temperature of 4 F.

Accident Location: Crete , NE    
Accident Date: 2/18/1969
Accident ID: 79767

Date Adopted: 2/24/1971
NTSB Number: RAR-71-02
NTIS Number: PB-198790

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