5 dead, at least 40 missing as investigators probe rail disaster in Canada



INFERNO. An aerial photograph shows a fire caused by the derailment of a 73 car freight train hauling crude oil as it consumes a large part of Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada. Photo by EPA/Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Five people died and at least 40 are missing after a freight train hauling crude oil is derailed in the Quebec town of Lac Megantic. Saturday’s catastrophic crash decimates the center of the small town, leveling more than 4 blocks of the downtown area.  It took firefighters 18 hours to contain the blaze. About 2,000 were forced to flee their homes. The operator of the train, Montreal Main & Atlantic Railway Inc., says the train stopped in the neighboring town of Nantes for a crew changeover. An engineer inspected the train, checking that it was running and that its air-brake system was engaged to hold it in place. For unknown reasons, the train was switched off, which may have disengaged the brakes. Police say several investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

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