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60 reported missing as Canada oil train explosion forces town evacuation

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Four tanker cars of petroleum exploded in the east Canadian province of Quebec after a train derailed, leaving flames billowing hundreds of feet into the sky. Some 30 buildings were destroyed and 1,000 evacuated from homes. Local radio reports 60 missing.

“It’s dreadful,” Lac-Megantic resident Claude Bedard told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It’s terrible. We’ve never seen anything like it. The Metro store, Dollarama, everything that was there is gone.”

The 73-tanker train left the tracks shortly after 1 a.m. local time as it was passing through the French-speaking lakeside town of Lac-Megantic, causing a huge fireball to rise into the night sky. Witnesses told Reuters they heard at least five loud blasts. The fire spread to a number of homes. Radio Canada have reported that around 60 people are missing.

The train “somehow got released,” and had no conductor on board, according to the rail company who spoke to Canadian media. Approximately 1,000 of the town’s 6,000 residents have been evacuated, with many missing. Police imposed a 1/2-mile (1-km) security zone around the blast’s center.

Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet told a press briefing it is too early to say if there are any casualties prior to Radio Canada’s statement. “I can say absolutely nothing about victims…we’ve been told about people who are not answering their phones, but you have to understand that there are people who are out of town and on holiday,” he said.

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