Local media first stated that a derailed train in western Arizona on Wednesday night was hauling dangerous chemicals, but the story has since shifted.
The event occurred around nine miles east of the California border, in the small, unincorporated town of Topock, which has a population of approximately 2,000.
Wednesday at 9:32 p.m., KSAZ-TV in Phoenix reported that Mohave County Sheriff’s Office authorities had confirmed the derailment and classified the train as transporting hazardous goods, but no leak had been detected.
According to the site, both the National Transportation Safety Board and BNSF Railway had been contacted and were launching investigations.
CNN reported less than nine hours later that the sheriff’s office had simply said that the train “may have been carrying hazardous materials,” and that the real load was corn syrup.
“BNSF Railway can confirm that a train carrying corn syrup derailed” about 7:40 p.m., BNSF’s Lena Kent told CNN in an email.
“There were no injuries as a result of the derailment and preliminarily reports indicate there are no hazardous materials involved,” she added.
At the time of that report, eight cars were thought to have derailed and were obstructing the track, with no expected reopening time.
The reason was still being investigated.
A representative for the sheriff’s office stated that no obvious leaks have occurred as a result of the derailment.
ABC News spoke a local neighbor who drove to the derailment scene after hearing about it on a police scanner.
Chris Higa told ABC, “Being in my own town, it was definitely one of those like ‘Wow, is this actually happening?’’
“Kicking on that light bar, my vehicle, I could see the part of the train, and it was like, wow, there’s an actual train in the middle of the desert,” he said.
Higa suggested that storm water may have affected the tracks. ABC reported earlier that evening that a tornado warning had been issued for the region, and that minor flooding had also occurred.
Higa did not believe, however, that any of the train’s cargo had leaked.
“I didn’t notice anything out of the blue, there was no smell. It was just that humid air,” he said.
“There was no discoloration in the air, anything of any chemicals, no glowing of anything,” he added.
ABC reported that Amtrack canceled at least one train in the region owing to the disaster.