A train accident in Canada has residents in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, preparing for what they believe will be a dramatically rising death toll after an explosive derailment involving a runaway train early Saturday.
Some 40 people remained missing after explosions from the derailed cars destroyed much of the downtown district in Lac-Megantic. Five people were initially reported killed, according to The Associated Press.
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The AP reported that 72 oil-filled tanker cars somehow came loose early Saturday morning, sped nearly 7 miles downhill into Lac-Megantic, and at least five cars exploded. The first explosion hit the usually busy downtown district about 1 a.m. local time.
Joe McGonigle, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic's vice president of marketing, told the AP that the company believes the brakes gave way in the runaway cars.
"Somehow those brakes were released, and that's what is going to be investigated," McGonigle told the AP on Sunday. "We're pretty comfortable saying it is the brakes. The train was parked, it was tied up. The brakes were secured. Somehow it got loose."
CNN said law enforcement evacuated more than a third of the town of 6,000 people
, most from the center of Lac-Megantic, and a home for the elderly.
Amanda Gabrielle told local media that the train crashed on her birthday, CNN reported. She lost her dog and her home, and doesn't have any family or friends nearby, according to the network.
"I lost everything," CNN said Gabrielle told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "I don't know what's going to happen to me."
Authorities told CBC that their efforts to find missing and injured people have been slowed
by ongoing fires and the risk of more explosions.
CTV reported that Musi-Café bar had customers inside at the time of the crash
, but authorities believe is still unsafe to enter.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard said he hopes fire officials will have gained control of enough areas Monday so rescuers can expand their searches.
"There has been a lot of work that's been done on the scene during the night, and hopefully we will get more areas that we can search during the day. But that of course is under the firefighters' responsibility," CNN reported Richard as saying.
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