Investigators said Monday that a freight train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames over the weekend because vandals had removed sections of railroad track.
A large-scale cleanup operation is currently under way in the Krasnodar region's Temryuksky district after 17 wagons containing crude oil came off the rails close to the Vyshestebliyevskaya railroad station on Saturday morning, the Emergency Situations Ministry said on its website.
Four of the upturned wagons caught fire as the 69-wagon train derailed, spilling oil alongside the tracks, Interfax reported Monday.
The flames spread across 120 square meters and were started by a stray spark, regional investigators told the news agency.
Investigators told Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, who visited the Krasnodar region on an official visit Saturday, that vandals had likely caused the train to derail by removing the "metal pads that connect the rails," Interfax reported.
Emergency workers have pumped 660 tons of crude oil from the damaged wagons and have begun to remove contaminated soil from the affected area, according to a statement on their official website.
On Saturday, the emergencies ministry said the oil spill had not contaminated waterways and did not present any threat to the local population.