'Rivers of fire' in deadly Canadian rail disaster

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'Rivers of fire' in deadly Canadian rail disaster

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At least five people have been killed after a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic.

Around 40 people are still missing after the explosion which destroyed much of the town’s centre and about 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephan Harper, will visit the town today and speaking earlier offered his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of those affected.

The train had been carrying hundreds of thousands of litres of crude oil in pressurized carriages which exploded upon derailing.

It had been stopped at Nantes, around four miles uphill of Lac-Megantic, when the containers became separated and began rolling downhill, gathering momentum until reaching the town. It’s still unclear how the carriages became uncoupled.

Witnesses in Lac-Megantic described the moment of the explosion, saying there had been “balls of fire” and streets that looked like “rivers of fire”.

Emergency crews are still battling the blaze and an exclusion zone is in place due to fears that more carriages may still explode.

The lakeside town is around 155 miles east of Montreal and close to the US border with Vermont. US emergency services have been assisting their Canadian counterparts in the attempts to tackle the disaster.