Canadian freight train blast death toll hits three, set to rise

Sun Jul 7, 2013 10:50am EDT
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* Unofficial list drawn up by residents show dozens missing

* Runaway train jumped rails, exploded in town

By Richard Valdmanis and Julie Gordon

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 7 (Reuters) - Canadian police on Sunday raised the death toll from a massive explosion involving a runaway freight train to three and said they expected to find more bodies in the wreckage of a small Quebec town.

The train, which had been hauling crude oil from North Dakota to eastern Canada, derailed and blew up early on Saturday in Lac-Megantic, a town of 6,000 on the edge of a deep blue lake and ringed by forests of pine and birch. There was no driver on board.

It is not clear why the train began rolling down toward the town, or why the crude oil blew up. The train had five locomotives and 72 tanker wagons, each carrying 30,000 gallons (113,000 liters) of crude oil. Four caught fire and exploded.

The blast produced a fireball that mushroomed hundreds of feet into the air and destroyed dozens of buildings in the center of the town.

"Three bodies have been found," police spokesman Michel Brunet told reporters. "People have been reported missing or disappeared but ... we are not going to issue a figure. We know there are going to be more deaths."

Police said late on Saturday they had discovered the remains of one victim.   Continued...