March 16, 2014
LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) -- The search for perhaps dozens of bodies in the Canadian town that was devastated by the wreck of a runaway oil train is being hampered by blackened debris, twisted metal and gas leaks.
The train smashed into the small lakeside town of Lac-Megantic in Quebec, near the border with Maine, early Saturday. The fiery wreck incinerated much of the downtown area, leaving 15 people confirmed dead. Officials now say 50 people are missing, but that figure includes those killed. The bodies that have been recovered were burned so badly, they have yet to be identified.
One man who saw the approaching train just before the derailment and explosions says it was moving "at a hellish speed." He describes it as "a black blob that came out of nowhere." The witness says he'd just said goodbye to friends at a cafe. And those who fled quickly "made the right decision" -- while others who tried to start their cars may have "burned in them." Also killed, he says, were people who "weren't fast enough to escape the river of fire that ran down to the lake."
Investigators are focusing on whether a fire on the train a few hours before it broke loose may have set off the deadly chain of events.