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Canada Derailment Toll Rises to 13

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The death toll in Quebec's oil train disaster has jumped to 13 people, and police say about 37 more people are still missing.

Quebec provincial police Sergeant Benoit Richard on Monday said eight more bodies had been found in the wreckage, after conditions improved enough for inspectors to get better access to the charred site two days after the disaster.

The rail company that operated the train said it was parked outside the town of Lac Megantic late Friday, and that the train's engineer set its brakes as he ended his work shift. But sometime later, the train started moving downhill, gathered speed and derailed on a curve, causing huge explosions.

The blasts destroyed about 30 buildings, including a public library and a popular bar that was filled with revelers.

All but one of the train's 73 tanker cars were carrying oil and the accident has renewed a long-running debate over the safety of oil transport by rail.

Numerous rail companies in both Canada and the U.S. have sharply increased oil shipments as pipelines from Canadian fields and the U.S. state of North Dakota have been filled to capacity.

Oil shipments by rail are more expensive than by pipelines. But the recent surge in North American oil production has outpaced pipeline construction, forcing many producers to turn to trains to move their oil to refineries. Pipeline construction has proved controversial, with the U.S. government in the midst of a lengthy debate about whether to approve a new pipeline from Canadian tar sand fields through the central part of the United States to a refinery along the Gulf of Mexico.

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Posters all around town say “Communal Celebration of the canonization of John Paul II, April 27,” Krakow, Poland, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)

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