Quebec train explosion death toll up to 5
The death toll from the explosion of a runaway freight train in a small Quebec town rose to five Sunday and another 40 people are missing, police said Sunday.
The train, which had been hauling crude oil from North Dakota to eastern Canada, derailed and blew up early on Saturday in the middle of Lac-Megantic, a town of 6,000 on the edge of a deep blue lake and ringed by forests of pine and birch. There was no driver on board.
"Two more people have been recovered, two more bodies, which brings the total to five ... there are about 40 people, more or less, who are considered to be missing," police spokesman Michel Brunet told reporters. "There could be more, there could be less."
It is not clear why the train began rolling down toward the town, or why the crude oil blew up. The rail line is owned by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, which said the engineer had secured the train for the night and left.
The train had five locomotives and 72 tanker cars, each carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil. Four caught fire and exploded.
The blast at about 1 a.m. Saturday produced a huge orange and black fireball that mushroomed hundreds of feet into the air and destroyed dozens of buildings in the center of the town, including a bar popular with young people.
Scores of people gathered at a school that was being used as a makeshift shelter. Outside, Louise Boulet, 65, looked at a local newspaper that had published an aerial view of the explosion scene. One of the flattened buildings was the house where her 63-year old sister, Marie-France Boulet, lived.
"She is dead for sure. If she were alive, her car would not still be there," she said, pointing to a burned out vehicle in the photo.
Marie-France ran a women's clothing shop from the front of the building where she lived by herself.
"She was my best friend," Louise Boulet said as tears welled in her eyes. "She died with all of my secrets and I will guard all of hers."
About 2,000 of the town's inhabitants were evacuated after the blast.