Nightly News   |  July 06, 2013

Train carrying oil derails in Quebec town

A Quebec town was evacuated and one person was reported dead after a train carrying petroleum products derailed and exploded in the early hours of Saturday morning. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> train cars carrying toxic petroleum derailed and crashed today. it happened in quebec. michelle franzen with the latest.

>> reporter: the massive inferno sent flames into the night sky, fueleded by crude oil from ruptured tank cars, the runaway, unmanned 73-car train derailed about 1:00 a.m ., sparking a fire and explosion that shattered the quiet of this lake town, 135 miles north of the border.

>> it looks like a war zone , a lot of buildings burned.

>> reporter: by day break , the skies still black with thick smoke, visible for miles. firefighters around the region, including from the u.s., helped battle the blaze. crews poured water on tank cars still standing in hopes of avoiding more explosions. a tv reporter from canada on sewn.

>> people are shocked about what happened. people are talking about this is a small town where everyone knows one another and never imagined there could be so much devastation.

>> reporter: late today, officials confirmed at least one person had died but wouldn't say how many are missing. local media reported at least 60 people unaccounted for. pictures revealed a devastating sight with as many as 30 buildings destroyed or flattened. a railroad official said the train was parked outside of town and wasn't in the located momotive when it began rolling down the track. officials are trying to figure out how it was able to travel some distance without a crew on board. meanwhile, more than 1,000 people, about 1/6 of the town's population, have been evacuated. on twitter, residents wrote how sad to see so much devastation in my hometown. and family and friends waiting for word reached out. praying for news from my family in lac-megantic, canada. the search for the missing continues. michelle franzen , nbc news.