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Death toll after train derailment rises to 5

LAC-MÉGANTIC, Quebec -- As firefighters doused still-burning oil tanker cars, more bodies were recovered yesterday in this devastated town in eastern Quebec, raising the death toll to five after a runaway train was derailed, igniting explosions and fires that destroyed the downtown district.

Authorities feared more bodies might be found once they reached the hardest-hit areas. Lt. Michel Brunet of Quebec Provincial Police said about 40 people have been reported missing.

Brunet confirmed two more deaths early in the afternoon after confirming two dead overnight. One death was confirmed Saturday.

All but one of the 73 cars were filled with petroleum.

The eruptions early Saturday sent residents scrambling through the streets under the heat of towering fireballs.

The search for victims in the debris was hampered because two tanker cars were still burning in the morning.

The cause of the accident was believed to be a runaway train after its brakes somehow were released, the railroad's operator said. Edward Burkhardt, the chief executive of Rail World Inc., the parent company of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, said the train had been parked uphill of Lac-Mégantic.

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