Québec Oil Explosion Shatters Town, 50 Suspected Dead

Authorities are struggling to identify dozens of bodies after an unmanned train carrying 72 cars of crude oil derailed and burst into flames on Saturday, shattering the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Québec. Though only one body so far was able to be formally identified, twenty more have been discovered in the wake of the explosion—and 30 more families have been told to assume their loved ones have perished.

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"We owe an abject apology to the people in this town," said Edward Burkhardt, head of the train's parent company, Rail World Incorporated. He defended the lack of driver, saying that it was common practice, and pointed the finger at engineer and employee Tom Harding. It appears that a fire had started on the train earlier, disabling the brakes and seemingly causing the derailment. Harding, according to Burkhardt, did not include the hand brakes that would have stopped the crash.

Crude oil is increasingly being transported via rail in Canada, but the incident has opened debate about the safety of the ever-growing practice. This is the second-biggest train disaster in Canadian history; the last was in 1864.

(Image: CTV News)