Canada Train Accident Death Toll Rising: What Caused Deadly Rerailment And Explosion? [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on July 8, 2013 4:54 PM EDT

Canada Train Accident
A Canada train accident in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, kills 5. Scores are reported missing (Photo: YouTube / carolinestone)

A Canada train accident occurred Saturday at approximately 1 a.m. in the province of Quebec. A runaway freight train carrying 72 oil tankers derailed and triggered devastating explosions in the downtown area of the French Canadian town of Lac-Megantic. The small town of 6,000 is approximately 155 miles east of Montreal and just west of the Maine border.

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According to authorities, a freight train hauling 72 oil-filled tanker cars derailed at speed, causing a terrifying series of blasts from at least five tankers that exploded one by one. Five victims are confirmed dead as the fire grew and consumed the land; 30 buildings in the area were incinerated. As many as 40 individuals still remain missing since the Saturday incident. Unfortunately, authorities admit that a higher death toll is inevitable. A spokesperson of the coroner's office admits that it may not be possible to recover some of the bodies due to the extreme intensity of the blasts.

The damage caused by the Canada train accident was so extensive that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the scene as a violent war zone. Residents of Lac-Megantic ran for their lives as enormous fireballs threatened the town. The search and rescue process across the area moved slowly on Sunday as firefighters made sure fires ignited during the incident were safely extinguished.

Two tankers continued to burn Sunday morning, causing major safety concerns. Local Fire Chief Denis Lauzon set a 500 feet perimeter surrounding the tankers as water and foam were sprayed to keep the tankers from overheating and exploding.

"This is an unbelievable disaster," said Prime Minister Harper, who visited the town and the site on Sunday. "This is an enormous area, 30 buildings just completely destroyed, for all intents and purposes incinerated. There isn't a family that is not affected by this." According to AP, as many as a third of the Lac-Megantic residents have been forced to evacuate from their home.

Investigation surrounding the Canada train accident is ongoing. While Transportation Safety Board investigator Donald Ross has confirmed the the black box has been successfully retrieved, many areas of the Canada train accident site are still inaccessible.

Rail World Inc., parent company of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, revealed the train had been parked uphill of Lac-Megantic after a train engineer had completed his run. The tanker cars somehow came loose.

"We've had a very good safety record for these 10 years," said Rail World Inc. CEO Edward Burkhardt. "Well, I think we've blown it here."

Early forensics suggest the brakes are to blame. "Somehow those brakes were released, and that's what is going to be investigated," said Montreal, Maine & Atlantic's vice president of marketing, Joe McGonigle. "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."

Learn more about the devastating Canada train accident in the video below:

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