Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Saturday, 6 July 2013. Photo: Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Saturday, 6 July 2013. Photo: Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Train Derailment Sparks Explosions in Quebec

Huge fire erupts in Lac-Mégantic, QC, Canada, as an oil train derails. All of downtown is burning right now.

Vers 1:20am samedi matin, il y a eu une Explosion d'un train au centre-ville de Lac-Mégantic. Le train ne freinait pas et les wagons-citernes ont explosé à la traverse à niveaux. Le ciel s'est éclairé jaune et rouge. Un scène d'horreur.

Train carrying petroleum derails, catches fire in Canada's Quebec province.

A train carrying petroleum products derailed in a small town in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec on Saturday, causing big explosions and sending flames and smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

Lac-Megantic train derailment: videos, photos from the scene

Le centre-ville de Lac-Mégantic est en flamme. Explosions par dessus explosions … en voici une que j'ai captée à environ 400 mètres du dernier wagon de queue de ce train de la MMA.

Déraillement de train à Lac-Megantic

Smoke from a massive fire sparked by the derailment of a train carrying crude oil rises behind a church spire in the eastern Quebec town of Lac-Megantic Saturday, 6 July 2013. Photo: CTV News

LAC-MÉGANTIC, Quebec, 6 July 2013 (Associated Press) – A train carrying crude oil derailed Saturday in eastern Quebec, sparking several explosions and a blaze that destroyed the center of the town of Lac-Mégantic and killed at least one person. An unspecified number of people were reported missing.

Witnesses said the eruptions sent local residents scrambling through the streets under the intense heat of towering fireballs and a red glow that illuminated the night sky.

Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet confirmed that one person had died. He refused to say how many others might be dead, but said authorities have been told “many” people have been reported missing.

Up to 1,000 people were forced from their homes in the middle of the night in the town, which is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) east of Montreal and about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the Maine border.

The derailment caused several tanker rail cars to explode in the downtown core, a popular area known for its bars that is often bustling on summer weekend nights. Police said the first explosion tore through the town shortly after 1 a.m.

The fire spread to a number of homes in the lakeside town of 6,000 people, and witnesses said the flames shot up higher than the steeple on a nearby church.

A fireball from a derailed train carrying oil rises above downtown Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Saturday, 6 July 2013. Photo: Benoit RattheFlames and billowing black smoke could be seen more than 12 hours after the derailment, which involved a 73-car train.

“When you see the center of your town almost destroyed, you’ll understand that we’re asking ourselves how we are going to get through this event,” an emotional Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche told a televised news briefing.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known.

Dozens of residents gathered hours after the explosion at the edge of a wide security perimeter and many feared the worst. About a kilometer (0.6 miles) down the town’s main street, flames danced around a railway tanker that sat at the edge of the road.

“On a beautiful evening like this with the bar, there were a lot of people there,” said Bernard Demers, who owns a restaurant near the blast site. “It was a big explosion. It’s a catastrophe. It’s terrible for the population.”

Demers, who fled his home, said the explosion was “like an atomic bomb. It was very hot. … Everybody was afraid.”

Charles Coue said he and his wife felt the heat as they sprinted from their home after an explosion went off a couple of hundred yards (meters) away.

“It went boom and it came like a fireball,” he said.

Another resident Claude Bedard described the scene of the explosions as “dreadful.”

“The Metro store, Dollarama, everything that was there is gone,” he said.

Environment Quebec spokesman Christian Blanchette said a large but undetermined amount of fuel had also spilled into the Chaudiere (Ah-DER-Re) River. Blanchette said the 73 cars were filled with crude oil, and at least four were damaged by the explosions and fire.

“We also have a spill on the lake and the river that is concerning us. We have advised the local municipalities downstream to be careful if they take their water from the Chaudiere River.”

Explosions rock Quebec town after train carrying crude oil derails, 1 person dead



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