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Dozens hurt, thousands flee after train carrying chemicals derails in Russia

A cargo train carrying chemicals derailed in southern Russia, injuring over two dozen people. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

At least 27 people were injured, thousands were evacuated and a rail car was thrown into an apartment building early Thursday when a freight train carrying fuel and chemicals derailed and caught fire in the Rostov region of Russia, according to reports.

A representative of the North Caucasian Railway told Interfax that a car carrying propane gas exploded during the derailment, causing flames to spread.

Rostov government via EPA

Rescue workers approach debris left after a freight train derailed and cars burst into flames Thursday in Russia's Rostov region.

At least eight people, including several who lived near the crash site, were hospitalized, RIA news agency quoted a Russian official as saying.

Firefighters initially could not get close to the train because of the raging flames, Voice of Russia radio reported early Thursday.

The fire was brought under control about 5:45 a.m. Moscow time Thursday (9:45 p.m. ET Wednesday), almost four hours after the derailment, Itar-Tass news agency said.

Rostov’s regional governor said that 2,700 people were evacuated after the derailment, which involved 51 cars, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee said the cars that derailed were carrying sodium chloride, gasoline, fuel oil, propane and other goods, Reuters reported.

"The blast hurled part of a railcar into the sixth-floor wall of a residential block," Reuters quoted the committee as saying. It added that a criminal investigation into possible safety breaches had also been launched.

The accident site is about 600 miles south of Moscow.