Iran - Chemical Train Derailment and Explosion OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 0024
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Iran - Chemical Train Derailment and Explosion
18 February 2004


1. At approximately 4.00 a.m. local time, a total of 51 chemical rail cars broke free from the train that they were attached to and rolled down the track, derailing at the next station resulting in a number of chemical leaks and fires in the Iranian City of Neyshabur, in Khorasan province, some 400 miles east of Tehran.

2. Local emergency services (fire, police, and rescue) responded to the incident, along with local and state level officials. Reports indicate that several hours later, as response teams attempted to extinguish fires and contain the incident, a large explosion occurred causing widespread damage and casualties.

3. The explosion has reportedly resulted in some 200 deaths, approximately 400 injured, with many individuals still unaccounted for. Those killed by the blast reportedly include the local governor, mayor and fire chief, as well as many of fire and rescue workers whom were on site responding to the incident.

4. There has been damage (exact extent currently unknown) to 5 nearby villages, including Dehnow and Hashemabad, among others.

5. The derailed cars contained a variety of chemicals including 17 cars of sulphur (a flammable solid), 6 tank cars of gasoline (highly flammable liquid), seven cars of fertilizers (explosive when mixed with flammable liquids), and 10 cars of cotton wool. The explosion was severe enough to have been felt 70 km away.

6. Although no actual official cause has been identified, the explosion could be attributed to pooling and mixing of incompatible chemicals that had leaked following the derailment, which were then exposed to heat from the subsequent fire, possibly resulting in the explosion.

National response

7. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran have mobilized resources from nearby areas, including helicopters, ambulances, and a 70-member rescue team, which have been dispatched to the site.

8. The Minister of Transport is reportedly traveling from Tehran to assess the scope of the damage.

International response

9. There has been no official request for International assistance from the Government of the Islamic at this time.

10. OCHA and UNEP, through their Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment are in contact with UNDP Tehran, and the Iranian Permanent Mission in Geneva. A copy of the Environmental Emergency Notification/Request for International Assistance form has been forwarded to UNDP Tehran, to facilitate any request for humanitarian assistance, and specialized environmental expertise and/or equipment, should this be required.

11. Given the lack of official information from the affected area, the only need identified thus far is for blood donations.

12. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

MAP - Iran: Chemical train derailment and explosion - Situation map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

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Direct Tel : +41 22 917 1815 /+41 22 917 1160

Press contact:
(GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker direct Tel. +1-212-963 8740

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