News / Americas

Missing in Canadian Crash Presumed Dead

Wagons of the train wreck are seen in Lac Megantic, July 9, 2013.
Wagons of the train wreck are seen in Lac Megantic, July 9, 2013.
Ken Bredemeier
Canadian police have concluded that 30 people missing since last week's oil tanker explosions are presumed dead, bringing the likely death toll from the rail disaster to 50.

Authorities met with grieving families after recovering 20 bodies in what was Canada's worst such incident in nearly 150 years. One police official said the survivors were told of the "potential loss of their loved ones."

The investigation of last Saturday's crash in Lac Megantic, Quebec is focused on the actions of the train's engineer, Tom Harding. He said he set the hand brakes on the train after he parked it outside the town late Friday as his shift ended. But a short time later, the train started to roll downhill to Lac Megantic, derailing on a curve and setting off massive blasts that leveled much of the town's business district.

The chief of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic rail line, Edward Burkhardt, said at first he believed Harding's account, but now does not and has suspended him without pay. Police say they are investigating whether criminal negligence caused the disaster.

All but one of the train's 73 cars were carrying oil. Rail transport of oil to refineries has sharply increased in North America as pipelines have been filled to capacity during the drilling boom in Canada's Alberta province and the northern U.S. state of North Dakota.

The crash has opened a debate over the safety of rail transport of oil, even though other deadly pipeline accidents have occurred over the years.

George Bibel, the author of the book, Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters, says he believes pipelines are much safer.

"Pipelines are significantly safer," he said. "Fundamentally, there's less moving parts, and less human intervention. We can look at the Alaskan pipeline that's been operating since 1977. It's had minor spills, but really no big events."

He said derailments are quite common, although runaway trains like the one in Canada are not. Bibel said the accident might have been averted if a second engineer had been assigned to the train.

"If it was operator error of the train, then obviously it's a lot safer if two guys are there. It's harder for two guys to screw up than one guy," he said.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Venezuela Troops Occupy Polar Food Distribution Warehouses

Move follows months of accusations by President Nicolas Maduro that Polar, country's largest private employer, working to sabotage the economy
More

Brazil Nuclear Leader's Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva arrested Tuesday for allegedly taking 4.5 million reais in bribes from engineering firms working on long-delayed Angra 3 power plant
More

Chileans Spooked by Crime, Demand Government Action

Hundreds took to streets of affluent Santiago neighborhoods Wednesday to protest what they say is explosion in crime in one of South America's safest nations
More

Bright Colors, Patterns Prevail at Colombiamoda Fashion Shows

Designers and brands show off a plethora of creations on catwalks in Medellin this week
More

Report: Rio's Filthy Waters Far From Ready for Olympics

An AP investigation found extremely high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues for swimming and boating
More

Peru Forces Raid Coca Region Rebel Slave Camp

Special forces rescue 26 children, 13 women, some of whom had been held captive for three decades, when they raided jungle camp of Shining Path rebels
More