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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Time Almost Up for Argentina, US Bondholders in Debt Talks

South American nation has until end of Wednesday to either pay in full 'holdout' hedge funds, cut a deal or win a stay on court order that triggeered deadline
More

Football Star's Stepfather Kidnapped, Released

Lawyer for family of Argentina's Carlos Tevez said player's stepfather appeared to be unharmed
More

Video Young Migrants From Central America Risk Life and Limb to Get to US

For tens of thousands of young people trip north is fraught with hardship and danger
More

Mother of Slain Mexican Teen Sues US Border Patrol

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was in Nogales, Mexico on October 10, 2012, when US agent shot him through border fence from Arizona
More

Planning Post-2015 Development

UNDP official calls for investing in people
More

Magnitude 6.3 Quake hits Mexico, No Major Damages, Injuries

Earthquake hit southwest of Juan Rodriguez, in eastern Mexican state of Veracruz at a depth of 95 km (60 miles), the US Geological Survey says
More