The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster occurred in the town of Lac-Mégantic, in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Quebec, at approximately 01:15 EDT, on July 6, 2013, when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken Formation crude oil rolled down a 1.2% grade from Nantes and derailed downtown, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-two people were confirmed dead, with five more missing and presumed dead. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the townsite. Initial newspaper reports described a 1-kilometre (0.6 mi) blast radius.
The death toll of 47 makes it the fourth-deadliest rail accident in Canadian history, and the deadliest involving a non-passenger train. It is also the deadliest rail accident since Canada’s confederation in 1867; the last Canadian rail accident to have a higher death toll was the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864.