Friday, 12 July 2013

24 bodies found in Canada train wreck with 26 still missing

Four more bodied have been found in the wreckage of the town center in a small town in Quebec, Canada following a fuel-carrying train crash, bringing to 24 the number of people confirmed dead.

Another 26 people remained missing and believed killed in the tiny Lac-Magantic town as of Thursday evening, in what has been described as Canada’s worst railway disaster since 1864 which would bring the total number of dead to 50.

The development comes as provincial and municipal leaders in Quebec fiercely criticized executives of the company that operated the driverless freight train for their slow response to the deadly disaster.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said the behavior of the company, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) and its chairman, Ed Burkhardt, had been “absolutely deplorable.”

Mayor of Lac-Magantic, Colette Roy-Laroche, further stated that the company executives should have visited the disaster scene much sooner.

“I am truly shocked that he didn’t get in touch with me as quickly as possible,” Roy-Laroche said of Burkhardt, adding that she did not meet with him when he toured her town on Wednesday.

The MMA train was carrying 72 tanker cars of crude oil when it smashed into Lac-Megantic early on Saturday and exploded in a wall of fire that flattened dozens of buildings, including a crowded bar.

The freight train was reportedly part of a huge expansion in rail shipments of crude oil across North America as oil output has drastically climbed in Canada and the US state of North Dakota and oil pipelines have run out of space.

Most of the 2,000 evacuated residents of Lac-Magantic have been allowed to return home, but the critically devastated "red zone" at the town’s center is regarded as ‘a crime zone’ and is closed to everyone but investigators.

Quebec police, meanwhile, have gone over half the roped-off area, said spokesman Michel Forget, but the most difficult task was yet to come due to the remaining oil and gas, as well as the tanker cars that had to be removed.

He added that some areas would likely take days and even weeks to reach, noting that the police would probably find more of the missing bodies.

The Canadian government said it would wait for the end of the investigations before taking decisions on rail safety.

Friday 12 July 2013


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