5 dead, 40 missing in oil train derailment (VIDEO)

Foam covers a train wreck in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Foam covers a train wreck in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

NDN-Video

Five dead, 40 missing in Canada train disaster

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) — As firefighters doused still burning oil tanker cars, more bodies were recovered Sunday in this devastated town in eastern Quebec, raising the death toll to five after a runaway train derailed, igniting explosions and fires that destroyed the downtown district. With dozens of people reported missing, authorities feared they could find more bodies once they reached the hardest-hit areas.

Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet said Sunday that about 40 people have been reported missing, but cautioned that the number could fluctuate up or down.

“We met many people who had reported family members missing. Right now I can tell you about 40,” Brunet said.

Brunet confirmed two more deaths early Sunday afternoon after confirming two people were found dead overnight.

All but one of the 73 cars were filled with oil, which was being transported from North Dakota’s Bakken oil region to a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The eruptions early Saturday morning sent residents of Lac-Megantic scrambling through the streets under the intense heat of towering fireballs and a red glow that illuminated the night sky.

Local Fire Chief Denis Lauzon likened the charred scene to “a war zone.”

The search for victims in the charred debris was hampered because two tanker cars were still burning Sunday morning, sparking fears of more potentially fatal blasts.

The multiple blasts came over a span of several hours in the town of 6,000, which is about 155 miles east of Montreal.

About 30 buildings were destroyed after tanker rail cars laden with oil caught fire and exploded in the picturesque lakeside town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

The derailment caused at least five tanker cars to explode in the downtown district, a popular area packed with bars that often bustles on summer weekend nights. Police said the first explosion tore through the town shortly after 1 a.m. local time. The fire then spread to several homes.

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