Updated 8/21 11:30 a.m.
Two young women died at the site of a in Ellicott City, officials have confirmed.
Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19, of Ellicott City, died in the incident, Howard County Police Spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said Tuesday.
CSX offered its condolences.
"Two young women tragically lost their lives in a train accident this morning near Ellicott City, Maryland," the company wrote in a statement. "CSX wishes to offer its sincere condolences to their families."
Just before midnight Tuesday, 21 cars of an 80-car-long freight train derailed along the CSX line that travels through the Ellicott City historic district, according to Llewellyn.
Earlier, County Executive Ken Ulman reported 23 cars had derailed.
The train was headed southbound. Train cars and their loads -- coal -- fell into the parking lot off of Main Street, on the west side of the Patapsco River, Ulman said.
At least two people were found dead on the train tracks when crews responded to the scene, at about midnight, according to Llewellyn. CSX personnel will be removing the fallen train cars in the coming days.
"We’re not talking about a couple of hours" Llewellyn told reporters at about 7 a.m. "We’re probably talking about a couple of days."
Llewellyn said that officials do not know if there are victims trapped beneath the coal in the parking lot.
"We don’t at this point believe that there’s anybody there," she said. No one has been reported missing and police have not received any calls. "But that’s number two in terms of priority," she said. The first priority was extracting the bodies of the victims from the tracks.
According to a statement released by Llewellyn, neither of the two conductors was injured in the accident. CSX is investigating the cause of the derailment which was unknown at about 8 a.m.
When the train derailed "I just heard a boom," said Brad, a Phoenix Emporium employee. "Then a couple of little rumbles." He ran toward the tracks where, he said "the coal was a foot high." He ran back to the bar to contact his boss.
Fire and rescue crews have been working from the since early Tuesday morning.
Mike Maraini, of Catonsville, was also at the Phoenix. When he saw the train, however, he did not run back to the bar. "I ran up there and took pictures," he said. His pictures are attached to this article.
Patrick Shawn Moran said that he was first on the scene. Moran lives in Ellicott City and works as a consultant for the State Highway Administration.
"I pulled the car up and turned the beacon on," he said, so that no one would drive up to the scene.
Moran said he then ran up to find the conductor and check the engine. "I started running up the tracks to see if there was anyone injured that I could help," he said, adding "Anyone that wasn't fatally injured."
Main Street will be closed for what Fire Chief William Goddard called an "extended operation." Officials urge drivers to use an alternate route at least through Tuesday.
According to Ulman, representatives from the Maryland State Department of the Environment surveyed the scene and said, tentatively, that there was no serious impact on the Patapsco River.
"It could have been a lot worse, when it comes to chemicals," Ulman said of the spill.
On Aug. 8, . No one was injured in that incident.