Train carrying petroleum derails, catches fire in Canada's Quebec province

July 6 Sat Jul 6, 2013 8:13am EDT

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July 6 (Reuters) - A train carrying petroleum products derailed in a small town in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec on Saturday, causing big explosions and sending flames and smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said hundreds of people had been evacuated from their homes after the derailment, which took place at around 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) in the town of Lac-Megantic, close to the border with Maine.

Television pictures showed flames shooting into the air and thick black smoke billowing over the town of about 6,000 people.

There was no information about any casualties.

CBC quoted Ontario's Environment Ministry as saying that 73 rail cars filled with petroleum were involved and CBC's French language channel said four of the cars had caught fire. Quebec's environment minister was not immediately available to comment.

The rail line was operated by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, which owns some 510 miles (820 km) of track in Maine and Vermont in the United States and in Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada.

There have been a number of high-profile derailments of trains carrying petroleum products, including one in Calgary, Alberta, last week when a flood-damaged bridge sagged toward the still-swollen Bow River. The derailed rail cars were removed without spilling their cargo. (Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Eric Beech)

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