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Jul 07, 2013 at 03:34am IST

One dead as train carrying light crude oil explodes in Canada

One person was killed after a train carrying crude oil derailed on Saturday in a small Canadian town sparking explosions and a major blaze and forced close to 2,000 people to flee from their homes.

CBC News Canada citing witnesses reported between five and six explosions overnight in Lac-Mégantic, a town of about 6,000 people in Quebec province's Eastern Townships.

The derailment happened at about 1 a.m. Saturday (10.30 a.m. India time), about 250 km east of Montreal.

One dead as train carrying light crude oil explodes in Canada

One dead as train carrying light crude oil explodes in Canada

About 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes overnight, and several hundred more also left their homes Saturday afternoon because of air quality concerns.

Quebec provincial police confirmed one death on Saturday afternoon. CBC cited Sargeant Grégory Gomez del Prado as saying it's possible up to 100 people could be missing, although he said it is difficult to pin down an exact number.

A spokesperson for Quebec's Environment Ministry said 73 rail cars filled with crude oil were involved. At least four of the cars exploded, sending a huge cloud of thick, black smoke into the air.

More than 150 firefighters, some from as far away as Sherbrooke, Quebec and the neighbouring United States, worked from the early Saturday morning to bring the flames under control. While the fire continued to burn in the afternoon, authorities said it had been contained.

CBC's French service, Radio-Canada, has reported there was no one on board the train, which was being remotely operated.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation. A spokesperson for Quebec provincial police said it is still too early to say what could have caused the deadly incident.