The latest from local authorities, regarding the estimated 40 people still unaccounted for from Saturday morning’s rail accident in the lakeside town of Lac-Megantic, is that they might never be found.
At least five people were burned to death when a 73-car runaway train laden with crude oil slammed into the middle of the town -- a community of about 6,000 people about 134 miles east of Montreal -- razing dozens of homes and commercial properties, and forcing the evacuation of a third of the town’s population.
But dozens of others were still missing Monday morning, according to local authorities who fear that at least some of them might have been reduced to ashes. Authorities pointed out that many of the missing people could be alive but haven’t come forward yet. Several shelters have been erected to assist people whose homes went up in flames.
“There is not a family in the area not touched by this,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, after touring the site of the accident on Sunday, according to CNN.
Late Sunday, Yves Bourdon, chief executive of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which owned the train, told the Montreal Gazette that the train’s conductor had left the train parked during a shift change seven miles from Lac-Megantic, but that he returned to the train after a small fire broke out, possibly from a ruptured diesel line.
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It’s unclear how the train’s air brakes were released sometime after the fire was extinguished. Police have not ruled out foul play. However, what is known is the train went out of control and slammed its volatile payload leading to a series of massive explosions in the town.