UPDATE 6-At least one dead in freight train explosion in Canadian town

Sat Jul 6, 2013 6:46pm EDT
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* Canadian minister indicates death toll will rise

* Runaway train jumped rails early in morning

* Transporting crude oil from North Dakota to eastern Canada

* Disaster could figure in debate on Keystone XL pipeline

By Mathieu Belanger

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 6 (Reuters) - A fast-moving, driverless train carrying tankers of crude oil derailed and exploded into an enormous fireball in the middle of a Canadian town early on Saturday, destroying dozens of buildings and killing at least one person, a toll officials said was likely to rise.

The disaster occurred shortly after 1 a.m. (0500 GMT) when the runaway freight train with 73 cars sped into Lac-Megantic, a lakeside town of about 6,000 people in the province of Quebec near the border with Maine, and came off the rails.

Witnesses said the town center, which included bars as well as stores, a library and residential streets, was crowded with weekend partygoers.

Four of the cars caught fire and blew up in a huge fireball that mushroomed many hundreds of feet up into the air. It destroyed dozens of buildings, many of them totally flattened, included the popular Musi-Cafe music bar, eyewitnesses said.   Continued...