Shortly before 10:00 p.m. Thursday, a Kansas City Southern freight train derailed in southwest Lauderdale County near Meehan. The engine plus 19 cars were overturned and one transient riding the train was killed, 54-year-old Jackie Lee Hemrick of South Carolina.
Officials with the rail company were reluctant to comment on a possible cause for the derailment, but they were busy working to clear the tracks.
"We haven't determined the cause yet," said KCS's Frank Harman. "We're still looking."
According to crews on the scene, the train would have been traveling at over 50 miles per hour, giving it enough force to mangle the steel rails.
Rail workers came to Lauderdale county from as far away as Shreveport, Louisiana, to begin clearing the debris off the tracks, and removing part of the old line that was destroyed.
New crossties were trucked in Friday morning in an attempt to get this main freight line from Meridian to Jackson back up and running by Friday night.
Officials would not say what the train was hauling, but they did say it posed no threat to the neighboring communities.
"We don't have any sorts of hazardous materials associated with this train at all," said emergency management director Clarence Butler.
Kansas City Southern rail lines extend from Canada to Mexico, serving many major cities, so clearing the accident as soon as possible is a top priority to ensure a smooth flow through the rest of the railway.