On Tuesday night, a train whose fires had recently been put out by firefighters was left idling on a steep hill above a small Canadian town in Quebec. The unmanned train had been disabled while the fires were put out, and this might have been what knocked out the brakes. Once it started descending the hill, there was no stopping it.
“It was moving at a hellish speed,” said resident Gilles Fluet, as reported by the Huffington Post. “No lights, no signals, nothing at all. There was no warning. It was a black blob that came out of nowhere.”
That black blog crashed, after 18 minutes downhill, into the small town, destroying 30 buildings, including the Musi-Café, which was full of people; at least five of the cars exploded on impact.
The death toll has reached 15, with bodies burned past recognition, but over three dozen more people are missing.
“There are those who ran fast and those who made the right decision. Those who fooled around trying to start their cars to leave the area, there are probably some who burned in them,” Fluet said. “And some who weren’t fast enough to escape the river of fire that ran down to the lake, they were roasted.”
The fire has been contained, and the 1,200 residents have been told they can return to their houses, but as to who is missing and who is dead, it is dreaded information at this point.
“Everybody that is gone – we’re a close-knit community – they are my friends’ children, they’re former workmates, they’re elderly people that I know, I knew them all,” Fluet said. “I’m on adrenaline and not doing too badly, but I know that when the names come out and the funerals take place it will be another shock.”
Aside from the tragedy, the crash has given fuel for thought: should Canada build a pipeline to transport oil? The debate has not been decided, and Canada has been using more and more trains to transport oil throughout North America, but incidents like this one suggest the pipeline is the best bet after all.