LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec- Several people were missing after four tank cars of petroleum products exploded in the middle of a small town in the Canadian province of Quebec early on Saturday in a fiery blast that destroyed dozens of buildings.
The disaster occurred shortly after 1 a.m. (0500 GMT) when a freight train derailed in Lac-Megantic, a picturesque lakeside town of about 6,000 people near the border with Maine. Although police said they could not yet get close enough to determine whether there were any casualties from the still-burning fires, an aerial photograph showed widespread devastation in the town center.
French-language broadcaster Radio-Canada said one building at the center of town was a bar popular with young people. An eyewitness told the broadcaster the town center had been crowded at the time of the derailment.
"Many parents are worried because they haven't been able to communicate with a member of their family or an acquaintance," Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche told the channel.
"We can't give out any information on what's happening right now because the firemen haven't been able to get close."