A freight train reportedly carrying crude oil or other petroleum products exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada at around 1 AM on Saturday morning. The aerial photo above taken by province police shows the extend of the devastation, which occurred after the train derailed — causing four of the train’s 73 cars to explode.
The video posted below shows the terrifying fireball that erupted from the town center.
Lac-Megantic has a population of around 6,000 people. Thirty buildings in the center were destroyed by the Quebec train explosion and subsequent fire, but the police haven’t been able to get close enough to find out if there are any casualties.
The cause of the disaster is somewhat mysterious at the moment, since the railroad has reportedly confirmed with Radio Canada that the train was parked and didn’t have a conductor on it at the time of the explosion.
UPDATE: Railroad authorities have elaborated on the explosion, explaining in a Reuters statement that, “We’re not sure what happened, but the engineer did everything by the book. He had parked the train and was waiting for his relief…somehow, the train got released.” The train was then traveling out of control and at high speed when it derailed.
An Associated Press report said that the train is owned by Montreal Maine & Atlantic. It was believed to be on its way toward Maine, about 135 miles south of the Lac-Megantic, Quebec border.
Fear of more explosions from the remaining loaded tank cars has hindered the investigation.
About 1,000 people were evacuated from the danger zone. About 60 people are rumored to be missing, including people who were reportedly at a nightclub near the town center.
At the time of writing, there are no confirmed deaths. Authorities have cautioned that it’s possible that many people were out of town for the weekend, so many of the missing 60 may be found safe.
— Michael Forian (@Forian) July 6, 2013
— Willy Lowry (@willy_lowry) July 6, 2013
We’ll bring you more information about the Quebec train explosion at Lac-Megantic when we get it.
[aerial view Quebec Police/Surete de Quebec]