UK
07/07/2013 14:37 BST | Updated 07/07/2013 21:29 BST

Canada Runaway Train Explosion Kills At Least Five But Many More Missing In Town Of Lac-Megantic

An oil-laden, driverless freight train has exploded in a small Canadian town killing at least five person - but up to 40 more are missing.

A number of buildings - including a bar full of drinkers - were destroyed in the blast in the town of Lac-Megantic.

One thousand people were evacuated as a giant fireball sent a massive plume of smoke into the air.

lacmegantic

The level of destruction is clear in aerial shots

The train is reported to have parked in a neighbouring village before inexplicably rolling downhill towards Lac-Megantic.

Edward Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, told Reuters an engineer parked it up.

He said: "He claims he set the brakes on all five of the engines. He also claims he set the brakes on a sufficient number of cars on the train."

The train consisted of five locomotive engines and 73 cars filled with light crude oil, which are believed to have somehow decoupled.

As it careered into the town the train derailed as it went round a bend.

Police spokesman Guy Lapointe said: "We have already confirmed one death and we expect there will be others," reports the BBC.

"We also expect that the number of people reported missing will be greater than the final death toll."

Local media report up to 100 people may have died.