A train derailment in Quebec has killed at least 13 people and left 37 more missing. The death toll was raised from five on Monday and will likely rise again as investigators search for casualties.
The oil train accident devastated the small, picturesque town of Lac-Megantic over the weekend. With fires still smoldering, firefighters attempted to search for the missing.
Along with looking for casualties and the missing, crews worked to contain oil spilling into the Claudiere River. The Quebec government explained that the leak is “serious, but under control.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke after touring the devastated city, whose downtown area was completely destroyed by the derailment and subsequent fires. He stated:
“It looks like a war zone here. A large part of the downtown has been destroyed, it’s really just terrible. There has been loss of life as we all know and there are still many, many people missing.”
Quebec provincial police Sergeant Benoit Richard added on Monday that many of those missing in the wake of the train derailment were believed to have been at a popular downtown drinking establishment when the explosions happened. Rescuers have not been able to reach the bar, because of the flames.
While rescue and recovery operations continue, the train’s conductor has come forward to assure that he secured the train’s brakes before checking into a hotel for the night. Company officials have added that it appears the cars carrying oil came loose and rolled downhill seven miles, where they derailed and exploded around 1 am local time.
Officials said that the giant fireball destroyed more than 30 buildings and it will likely be days before the true extent of the damage is understood. Roughly one-third of the 6,000-person town was forced to evacuate their homes.
Officials have added that all but one of the train’s 73 tanker cars were filled with oil. At least five of those cars exploded and firefighters worked on Monday to keep two more cars from overheating and exploding.
Richard added that he hopes to open up more of the devastation area to crews looking for missing persons. A criminal investigation has also been launched into the Quebec train derailment.
[Image via Maxianos]