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Water main break floods Inner Harbor, causes train derailment; worker injured in nearby storm drain

A Baltimore water main break Monday generated widespread flooding around M&T Bank Stadium and caused a train derailment in the Howard Street Tunnel.

A worker was injured making repairs to a storm drain nearby.

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City and state officials began working about 7 a.m. to find the source of the sudden flooding, which pooled around the train tracks near the stadium. Around the same time, a large plume of discolored water appeared in the Inner Harbor and local business owners reported finding discolored tap water as well.

A Baltimore City water main break Monday morning caused widespread flooding around M&T Bank Stadium and a train derailment in the Howard Street Tunnel. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun video)

Crews found about 4-5 feet of water coming from the Howard Street Tunnel, said fire department spokeswoman Blair Adams. The flooding carried silt onto the tunnel tracks, causing a CSX train to partially derail. No one was injured in the derailment, Adams said.

The cause of the widespread water problems was believed to be a water main break near Howard and Pratt streets, though public works employees were still working to determine an exact location so repairs could be made.

It was not clear whether Monday morning’s heavy rains contributed to the water main break.

One city employee was seriously injured by a partial wall collapse while doing electrical work about 20 feet below ground in the area of Howard and Pratt streets about 3 p.m., Adams said. Other employees on scene reported seeing a cloud of smoke come from a manhole before the injured employee climbed out. He was taken to Shock Trauma and was listed in serious condition. A second worker suffered some smoke inhalation and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Adams said it is not clear whether the worker was making repairs related to the water main break. David McMillan, spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, said crews with the Department of Public Works, the Department of Transportation and CSX are investigating the incident.

The water ran downhill through the tunnel and flooded a service area used by staff at the M&T Bank Stadium, said Rachelina Bonacci, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Stadium Authority. The water later receded, she said.

This is not the first time the tunnel and Inner Harbor have experienced water troubles simultaneously. In June 2018, sediment leaked from a storm drain associated with the Howard Street Tunnel into the harbor, spreading a similarly large brown cloud through the water.

Public works officials say water main breaks often disturb sediment and push dirt into water supplies, causing cloudy or discolored water. Spokesman Jeff Raymond said the department is looking upstream to confirm the plume was caused by the break.

Officials encouraged property owners to flush their water. Complaints of discolored tap water subsided by midafternoon, Raymond said

No flooding occurred at Camden Yards. Regularly scheduled events will proceed as planned, Bonacci said.

All CSX and MARC trains were halted through the Howard Street Tunnel, and the light rail was later shut down after the city employee was injured, Adams said.

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