July 9, 2008 / 4:43 PM / 10 years ago

Landslide sends Iowa freight train into river

CHICAGO, July 9 (Reuters) - Four engines pulling a freight train tumbled into the Mississippi River in northeastern Iowa on Wednesday after hitting a landslide that may have been caused by heavy rains, officials said.

Two workers on the train suffered minor injuries, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad said. The Clayton County sheriff’s office said one of the two was rescued by boat and the other walked away from the crash.

The accident happened at dawn near Guttenburg, Iowa, on a stretch of track that threads a narrow area bounded by high bluffs on one side and the river on the other.

The railroad, part of Cedar American Rail Holdings Inc., said initial reports “indicated that a large boulder and embankment slide” hit the tracks and “it is suspected that heavy rain saturation weakened the bluff embankment, causing the slide.”

Rains during June caused extensive flooding and infrastructure damage across the Midwest, with damage at all levels estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

Larry Crubaugh, a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office, said there was some diesel fuel spilled.

    Cedar American also owns the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Illinois Railroad. Last year Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP.TO) agreed to buy both lines for about $1.5 billion, but the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has yet to approve passing control of the lines to the Canadian railroad.

    It was not clear what kind of freight the train was hauling. (Reporting by Michael Conlon; editing by Vicki Allen)

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