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RALEIGH, N.C., Jan 12 (Reuters) - North Carolina's Morehead City Port, a major import entry point for rubber and other commodities, was closed and evacuated on Tuesday after containers holding explosives were accidentally punctured, authorities said.
"As a precaution, they have evacuated the port area ... everything indicates this was by accident," a spokeswoman for the Morehead City Police Department told Reuters.
Morehead City Port is one of the deepest ports on the U.S. East Coast and its traffic includes imports of chemicals.
Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones told CNN that emerg
Jones said PETN is a crystal packaged in water for stability. He said the people who transport "any highly flammable explosive devices" have to and did notify the port and local emergency and police officials. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil said the substance has industrial and medical uses.
"Being an international port, we handle highly flammable explosive material all the time. Jet fuel comes through here all the time, gasoline, propane. So it's not unusual to have explosive material coming through Morehead City," he said.
The mayor of a coastal North Carolina town says a forklift operator accidentally punctured at least one container filled with a powerful explosive, forcing a port to shut down.
"Right now our advice to everybody is if they're uncomfortable staying in downtown Morehead, to evacuate further west. And if they choose to stay home, stay away from windows and doors," Mayor Jerry Jones told CNN.
Police, fire and explosive ordnance crews from nearby Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point arrived at the scene, and an incident command center was set up nearby.
Locals said there was no sense of panic. Drew Hall, who answered the phone at Crystal Coast Jamboree, a concert hall near the port, said she could see police lights.
"Everybody is going about their business," said Hall, 27 who has lived in Morehead City her whole life and does not remember a similar incident. "Why get nervous? Things happen. You can't freak out in times like this. If you freak out, you're going to go down."
“It’s pretty much a ghost town now,” said Liz Stewart, a bartender at Rap’s Grill and Bar, one block from the water. She had to park a half-mile from the bar, because the police had closed off the surrounding area. “We haven’t had a single person in all day, and we’re getting ready to close,” Ms. Stewart said, adding that the bar’s staff was informed that the spill may not be cleaned up until the late afternoon.
Highway 70 Reopens After Explosive Spill At Port
Life is beginning to return to normal in Morehead City after a hazmat scare shut down the state port, closed a major highway and produced a voluntary evacuation of downtown.
Authorities say the PETN came from a foreign ship that was delivering the material. WITN News has learned the "Lehmann Forester" is a cargo ship out of Antigua and Barbuda. Officials say the ship originated in Spain.
Officials said in a statement Wednesday that crews are maintaining the "utmost safety" in cleaning the spill. The port had been expected to reopen at 8 a.m. but officials did not set a new time after that target passed.
Originally posted by ThirdJohnAdams
I heard it was an involuntary evacuation....at least in the above video, he sounded like he said involuntary.