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Runaway oil train explodes in Canada, several still missing

Published:Monday | July 8, 2013 | 3:08 PM


A runaway oil tanker train exploded on Saturday in a Quebec town, killing at least five people and incinerating at least 30 buildings, officials said.

Hazardous conditions slowed firefighters' attempts today to search for some 40 people still missing.

Richard Gagne, a spokesman for Quebec provincial police, said it was still too risky to begin searching for the missing while firefighters made sure all flames were out and the unexploded oil tankers were kept cool.

The heart of the town of about 6,000 was levelled – including a popular bar where several dozen revelers were believed to have been at the time of the explosions.

About a third of the community was forced out of their homes.

The crash raised questions about the safety of Canada's growing transportation of oil by train.

All but one of the train's 73 tanker cars were carrying oil when they somehow came loose early Saturday, sped downhill nearly seven miles into the town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border, and derailed, with at least five of the cars exploding.

The train's owners said they believed brake failure was to blame.

Quebec's Environment Ministry Spokesman Eric Cardinal said officials remained hopeful they could contain more than 85 per cent of the spill.


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