News / Americas

    Quebec Town Grapples with Loss in Train Wreck Aftermath

    A police officer looks at the train wreckage in Lac-Megantic, July 9, 2013.
    A police officer looks at the train wreckage in Lac-Megantic, July 9, 2013.
    Reuters
    Residents of the town of Lac-Megantic in Quebec were coming to grips on Thursday with the reality that 50 of their own were most likely dead in the aftermath of the worst railway disaster in North American in more than two decades.
     
    Five days after a train hauling 72 cylinders of crude oil jumped the track and exploded into a wall of fire, provincial police said they had recovered 20 bodies, with another 30 people still missing and presumed dead, confirming the worst fears of a community that had all but given up hope.
     
    “She's dead,” said Jean-Guy Lapierre of his niece, holding a copy of a Quebec tabloid that had printed pictures of some of the town's missing young people on its front page. “She was just 28.”
     
    The crash and subsequent explosions rocked the eastern Canadian town of Lac-Megantic shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday, leveling its historic downtown strip.
     
    Numerous houses and businesses were burned to the ground, including the Musi-Cafe, a popular bar that was packed with people, eyewitnesses told Reuters.
     
    On Wednesday, the head of the railway company said the engineer probably did not set enough handbrakes when he parked his train some eight miles (13 km) west of town late on Friday, leading to the deadly accident. The official apologized to residents of the town of about 6,000.
     
    The words of remorse came too late for many locals who remain angry at the company - Montreal Maine and Atlantic - and accuse chairman Ed Burkhardt of shirking responsibility for the accident.
     
    “They still aren't taking the blame,” said Christiane, a woman who lived near the blast site and declined to give her last name. “First it's the firemen, now the engineer, who will they blame tomorrow?”
     
    Burkhardt had previously said that the air brakes that would have prevented the disaster failed because they were powered by an engine that was shut down by firefighters as they dealt with a fire shortly before the catastrophe occurred.
     
    On Wednesday, his focus was squarely on the engineer.
     
    “It's very questionable whether the hand brakes were properly applied on this train,” he told a crush of reporters. “As a matter of fact, I'll say they weren't, or we wouldn't have had this incident.”
     
    More than 200 investigators are working day and night to sift through the charred wreckage in the center of town in what authorities say is a crime scene. They have made no arrests.
     
    A death toll of 50 would make the accident Canada's deadliest since in 1998, when a Swissair jet crashed into the Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing 229 people.
     
    It would also be North America's worst rail crash since 1989, when 112 people died when an 11-car passenger train plunged off a bridge in Mexico.
     
    But there were glimmers of hope too.
     
    Nicole Carrier, who works at a local hospital, was shocked to open a newspaper Wednesday morning and see her own face  under the headline: 'Have you seen these people?'
     
    “It's Facebook's fault,” said Carrier, explaining that a friend's daughter had posted a frantic message on the social media service asking if she and her partner were still alive. The couple, who were evacuated from their home and did not have access to the Internet, did not respond.
     
    Her partner, Bernard Fortier, added that their faces were still being broadcast on television as part of the missing.
     
    “This morning, I went to the police station, and they said, 'oh, we're so happy to see you alive, Mr. Fortier,”' he said with a smile.
     
    MMA is one of many North American railroads that have  stepped up crude-by-rail deliveries as producers seek alternatives to pipelines that have been stretched to capacity by higher U.S. and Canadian output.
     
    That has led to a shift in the type of rail cars passing through small towns like Lac-Megantic. According to residents, the trains used to carry mainly lumber, but now they carry various hazardous materials.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Global Growth the 'Urgent Priority', G-7 Leaders Conclude

    A final statement of the meeting addressed broad issues facing the global economy while glossing over a difference of opinions among G-7 leaders over fiscal stimulus

    Diplomat Found Dead in El Salvador

    Body of Panama's honorary consul is found in vehicle in San Salvador, with a gunshot wound to the head

    In Colombia, Abortion Is Legal but Denied to Many Women, Advocates Say

    Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk

    Colombia Says 2 More Journalists Missing in Rough Area

    Journalists missing in region where security forces are already carrying out massive search for prominent Spanish journalist, President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday

    Cuba to Legalize Small, Medium-sized Private Businesses

    Move could significantly expand space allowed for private enterprise in one of world's last communist countries

    Coca Cola to Halt Some Production in Venezuela

    Sugar shortages and a deep recession have been forcing production shutdowns across the country