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An early morning derailment near Columbus could delay rail operations until 1 a.m., officials said.

The wreck, which occurred about 4 a.m Monday., knocked 11 railroad cars off the track about eight miles west of Columbus, said Lynda Frost, a spokeswoman for Montana Rail Link.

About 400 feet of main and sideline would have to be replaced, Frost said.

Ten of the cars were empty and the 11th was filled with particle board. No injuries were reported.

Crews with Hulcher Professional Services Inc. had hoped to have the wreckage cleared by Monday afternoon, but the scale of the derailment would likely occupy them until early Tuesday, Frost said.

There were 97 cars and three locomotives on the eastbound train. Four were so badly damaged they would have to be scrapped, and several others were still being assessed Monday afternoon.

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Ten to 12 trains have been delayed since the wreck, Frost said.

The cause had not been determined, and a damage estimate was not yet available.

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