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VIDEO: Inferno In Quebec Town When Train Explodes

At least one person has died, CTV News reports, after a freight train pulling tank cars full of crude oil exploded early Saturday in a small Quebec town about 160 miles east of Montreal.

Authorities confirmed the fatality, CTV News says, "describing the crash site as a 'war zone.' " In a news briefing, authorities did not report other injuries.

Our Original Post And Updates:

It's hoped that those now feared missing might have been out of town.

According toThe Montreal Gazette:

"The train that careened into the center of town in Lac Mégantic early Saturday morning was unmanned when it derailed and exploded in a huge ball of flame, says a spokesperson for the company that owned the locomotive.

"Joseph R. McGonigle confirmed toThe Gazette early Saturday afternoon that shortly before midnight, the train's conductor stopped in nearby Nantes, locked the brakes and checked to ensure that the rail cars carrying thousands of liters of crude oil were all securely attached.

" 'Sometime after (the first conductor left), the train got loose,' said McGonigle. ... The locomotive portion of the 73-car train actually detached half a mile outside of the small town, he added, but the cars carrying the oil kept right on rolling."

CBC News says that "witnesses reported between four and six explosions overnight in the town of about 6,000 people. The derailment happened at about 1 a.m. ET. ... It is not yet known if there are any casualties, but according to Radio-Canada 60 people have been reported missing."

Update at 5:08 p.m. ET. One Fatality Reported:

Police say one person has died in the accident, CBC News reports. The agency says Prime Minister Stephen Harper has issued a statement:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those affected by this morning's tragic train derailment. We hope evacuees can return to their homes safely and quickly."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.