According to a report in Toronto's Globe and Mail, a driver-less, runaway train carrying crude oil tankers rolled into the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, exploded like a bomb, and flattened the entire historic district of that town. At least 30 buildings were destroyed, including a packed bar. Survivors say that whether a person lived or died through the explosion all depended on where you happened to be standing at the moment.
According to Fire Chief Denis Lauzon. “The scene is like one you see after a big forest fire. There are only parts of the buildings left, trees have been completely burnt, there is no grass left, the cars are charred. This is total destruction.”
At this point, few injuries are reported, 5 people are confirmed dead, but over 40 people are claimed missing. The fear of the local provincial police is that people who were outside buildings like the Musi-Café bar, perhaps having a smoke, were spared. Those inside a structure that was flattened are feared dead.
There were 73 cars on the runaway train section, and no driver at all. The train's conductor said he had left the train still and secured, and that the brakes and safety mechanisms were functioning before he left. Firemen were called to investigate a fire on the train, but 73 of the cars somehow got loose and barreled toward town.
The fire chief is now saying that the train was on fire prior to its not making a curve in the tracks, crashing and exploding. At the site of the crash, two train cars are still ablaze and there is further risk of explosion. Firefighters are staying 500 feet away from the burning train cars, and are pouring a constant stream of lake water to fight the fires and prevent another explosion.
This situation means that rescue workers have been able to get nowhere near the Musi-Café bar, which was reported to have had many people inside at the time of the explosion.[photo: Toronto Globe and Mail]