A series of explosions rocked the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec late Friday night when a train carrying thousands of tons of crude oil derailed. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the blasts flattened buildings and left at least 60 people missing. Firefighters were still trying to contain the resulting blaze Saturday morning as 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes.
Lac-Mégantic has about 6,000 citizens and is located around 155 miles (250 km) west of Montréal. Witnesses said the derailment took place around 1:00 in the morning.
Zeph Kee, who lives 30 miles from Lac-Mégantic, told CBC that he saw the fireball from the first explosion rise into the sky. Patrons at a local bar were outside when the first fires lit the sky. The bar, said Kee, burned to the ground hours later.
Several homes and businesses, he said, are gone. “It was total mayhem,” he said, “people not finding their kids.”
More than 100 firefighters have converged on the scene, some traveling from the U.S., as officials try to bring the fire under control.
Isabelle Aller, a visitor to the area, said that she has been calling her friends’ phones repeatedly, but they never answer.
“The more time that passes, the more we are worried,” she said, adding that after the initial explosion, people went to the scene to watch the fire and may have been caught in the ensuing blasts.
Lac-Mégantic’s Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said that officials are doing everything they can. “We have deployed all resources to ensure that we can support our citizens,” she told CBC.
“It’s dreadful,” said resident Claude Bédard. “It’s terrible. We’ve never seen anything like it. The Metro store, Dollarama, everything that was there is gone.”
Watch video about this story, embedded below via CBC: