LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec: Fires continued burning more than 24 hours after a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in eastern Quebec, igniting explosions and fires that destroyed a town’s center and killed at least one person. Police said they expected the death toll to increase.
The eruptions 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, witnesses said. Flames and billowing black smoke could still be seen long after the 73-car train derailed, and a fire chief likened the charred scene to a war zone.
Up to 2,000 people were forced from their homes in the lakeside town of 6,000 people, which is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) east of Montreal and about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the Maine border.
Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet confirmed that one person had died. He refused to say how many others might be dead, but said authorities have been told “many” people have been reported missing.
Lt. Guy Lapointe, a spokesman with Quebec provincial police, said: “I don’t want to get into numbers, what I will say is we do expect we’ll have other people who will be found deceased unfortunately.”