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Canadians Pay Respects to Rail Tragedy Victims; 33 Confirmed Dead

Canadians have paid their respects to victims of the deadly rail disaster in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, as authorities confirmed 33 bodies have been found.

Church bells rang out 50 times in Lac-Megantic Saturday in memory of the 50 people believed to have died in the July 6 oil tanker explosions. Additional ceremonies took place in other Canadian cities and towns.

The accident in Lac-Megantic marked Canada's worst such incident in nearly 150 years.

An investigation has focused on the actions of the train's engineer. He said he set the hand brakes on the train after parking it outside Lac-Megantic. But 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 has suspended the engineer without pay.

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 debate about the safety of rail transport of oil, even though other deadly pipeline accidents have occurred over the years.

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