Tanker explodes on I-55 near Batesville; officers and driver injured

BATESVILLE, Miss. — The southbound lanes of I-55 near Batesville are now open after a tanker truck exploded, injuring at least three people Thursday morning.

According to the Batesville Police Department, the tanker was carrying hazardous materials when it crashed near Eureka Road and caught on fire.

Two officers and another civilian pulled the driver from the truck right before the tanker exploded. Batesville police said the driver was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center's Burn Unit after sustaining severe burns.

The officers were burned on their arms.

The interstate was shut down in both directions and authorities evacuated those who live within a half-mile radius of the crash.

Sean Perkins and his family are right on the edge of the evacuation zone.

"It makes me real scared. I mean, being this close to it. We've got a son who wants to be out here running around," he said.

Perkins said he worries about the people who did have to evacuate.

"I'm sure they're all concerned about their loved ones, because there's a lot of people in that area over there."

Bessie Page, like so many others, was caught in traffic while trying to get home to Greenwood.

"When I exit off to go down towards Batesville I thought I was going to be able to go South, but then every road was blocked."

The smell in the area indicated Sulfer Dioxide, which is harmful to ingest.

"That can hurt everybody," Page said.

Many drivers diverted to Highway 51, but Page gave up for the day.

"I'm going back to my daughter's house in Southaven, and I'll wait. I may just not come this way until tomorrow morning.

The Batesville Civic Center was open for evacuees, the Panola Partnership said in a tweet.