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What appears to be an overheated wheel bearing seen moments before East Palestine train derailment, NTSB says

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Posted at 2:51 PM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 14:51:03-05

An investigative update from the National Transportation Safety Board states that investigators have identified the Norfolk Southern rail car that initiated the derailment in East Palestine on Feb. 3 after viewing surveillance video from a resident showing “what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.”

The NTSB did not specify which video it viewed as part of its investigation, only that it was from a resident moments before the crash at 8:54 p.m.

ABC News has obtained surveillance video footage from Butech Bliss, a metal processing company about 20 miles west of East Palestine, showing flames and sparks coming from the wheels of one of the Norfolk Southern train cars as it passed by at about 8:12 p.m.

Watch that raw video below:

RAW: Surveillance video shows Norfolk Southern train car on fire before derailment

The NTSB says it is working with at least 11 different investigative parties to determine exactly what caused the derailment that resulted in the spillage and burn-off of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals.

The wheelset from the railcar suspected of initiating the derailment has been collected as evidence for examination, its investigative update states. The suspected overheated wheel bearing has been collected and will be examined by engineers at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.

NTSB investigators will also examine the tank car top fittings and relief valves from the vinyl chloride tank car, after which they will be shipped to Texas for testing under the direction of the NTSB.

Once the train cars are decontaminated, NTSB investigators will return to Ohio to complete an examination of those tank cars, the report states.

The NTSB is analyzing locomotive event recorder data, image recording data and wayside defect detector data.

The agency says a preliminary report is expected to be ready in two weeks.

The NTSB update released Tuesday states that 38 cars derailed on Feb. 3 in East Palestine. A fire ensued that damaged an additional 12 cars. There were 20 total hazardous material cars in the train, the NTSB said, 10 of which derailed. A full list of what was on board the derailed cars can be found here.

View continuing coverage of the East Palestine train derailment here.

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