Thirteen people have been confirmed dead in Saturday's train derailment in the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, officials said on Monday, while at least 40 remain missing as recovery efforts continue, according to the Associated Press.
Eight more bodies were discovered on Monday, said the AP, but the death toll could rise further.
The news came amid reports that the train had been inspected and cleared the day before the crash, and suggestions that the locomotive had been tampered with.
"We have evidence of this," Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railway chairman Ed Burkhardt told the Montreal Gazette. "But this is an item that needs further investigation. We need to talk to some people we believe to have knowledge of this."
Many buildings were destroyed in the derailment, and at least 2,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes after a fireball generated by the crude-oil bearing train tore through the small community of 6,000 people, which is located near the US border with Maine.
More from GlobalPost: Quebec train derailment sets small town ablaze, kills at least three (VIDEO)
"It's a difficult to explain what's happened here... a large part of the downtown has been destroyed," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper after touring Lac-Megantic, according to the BBC, noting that 30 buildings had been incinerated in the small town.
Queen Elizabeth II on Monday spoke out about the tragedy, saying it "has shocked us all," according to the Associated Press.
"There'll be investigations to ascertain what happened and to ensure it never happens again," vowed Harper, who described the scene as akin to a war zone.
Railway officials told Reuters on Monday that they believe the train's airbrakes were disabled by firefighters, who reportedly shut down the engine that powered them in an effort to put out a fire that broke out shortly before the incident. According to them, the airbrakes could have prevented much of the damage and loss of life, said Reuters.
Police said their investigations have been hampered by the scene of the accident being too dangerous.
"It's an area that is still extremely risky... The fire service decided they could not allow us to go there for security reasons. We'll see what we can do today," police spokesman Benoit Richard said on Monday.
"It was going way too fast," said witness Bernard Théberge to the Globe and Mail.
"I saw a wall of fire go up," Théberge told the paper. People got up on the outside patio. I grabbed my bike, which was just on the railing of the terrasse. I started pedaling and then I stopped and turned around. I saw that there were all those people inside and I knew right away that it would be impossible for them to get out."
Two tanker cars continued to burn into Sunday evening, worrying firefighters, reported the Associated Press. Firefighters remained 500 feet from the tankers and doused them with water in an effort tor prevent them from exploding.
Here's more from Reuters: