An explosion hit a propone facility in Quebec on Thursday, and several workers were missing, municipal officials said. Quebec provincial police said evacuations were underway in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, a town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Montreal.
Stéphanie Therrien, deputy director general for the Montcalm regional municipality, said three or four employees were unaccounted for.
The regional municipality said more explosions were possible because of the propane tanks on site and it warned people to stay away.
Ms Therrien said authorities had established an evacuation zone extending one kilometer (a half mile) out from the site.
The local ambulance service said paramedics were present but had not been able to approach the scene because of the danger.
The explosion happened at 11.17 am at Propane Lafortune. Ms Therrien said it was unlikely people had been able to escape the violent fire which followed the blast.
She added: “There might have been witnesses who tried to get inside to help, but since the roof was collapsing, they had to come out as quickly as possible.”
Local resident Karine Lamarche told broadcaster CTV: “It was shaking, I thought something had fallen on the house.
“I saw the big smoke up in the sky, a lot of fire coming from the ground and going up in the air. There was a lot of black smoke.”
A security perimeter has been set up around the site.
Francois Bonnardel, Quebec’s Public Security Minister tweerted that his department was monitoring the situation, adding that his thoughts were with the workers.
(More to follow)