Deputy Chief Correspondent, West & Central Africa
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Jul 9, 2013

Residents of Quebec town allowed to go home after train disaster

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 9 (Reuters) – Authorities in the
severely damaged Quebec town of Lac-Megantic said some residents
could start returning home on Tuesday, three days after a
runaway train derailed and exploded, killing up to 50 people.

“I have excellent news to announce this morning,” Mayor
Colette Roy-Laroche told reporters as she announced that around
1,200 of the 2,000 people who were evacuated due to the disaster
could go home. The town has 6,000 people.

Jul 9, 2013

Quebec disaster death toll jumps to 13, some 37 still missing

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The death toll in Quebec’s oil train disaster jumped to 13 people on Monday and police said about 37 more people were missing, a sign the derailment and explosion could be the worst accident in Canada since the Swissair crash of 1998.

Police said they estimated a total of around 50 people were either dead or missing after the gigantic blast destroyed dozens of buildings in the center of Lac-Megantic early on Saturday.

Jul 9, 2013

Shell-shocked residents eager to return home in Quebec town

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – Three days after a runaway train derailed and exploded in the downtown core of Lac-Megantic, many residents of the Quebec tourist town are still waiting for answers about missing loved ones, while others are just impatient to return home.

With the fires now out and the authorities finally able to access the epicenter of the blasts, the death toll is expected to climb and many of the town’s evacuated residents will finally be allowed back to assess the damage.

Jul 9, 2013

Insight: How a train ran away and devastated a Canadian town

CHICAGO/LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – The short length of track, nestled in a dark pine and birch forest in Quebec, is a regular overnight stop for freight trains hauling crude oil and other raw materials across North America.

Normally, before retiring for the night, the train operator sets the hand brakes and leaves one locomotive running to power the air brakes that help hold the train in place on the gently sloping track. The next morning, the operator or a relief engineer starts up the train and continues on their way.

Jul 9, 2013

How a train ran away and devastated a Canadian town

CHICAGO/LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 8 (Reuters) – The short
length of track, nestled in a dark pine and birch forest in
Quebec, is a regular overnight stop for freight trains hauling
crude oil and other raw materials across North America.

Normally, before retiring for the night, the train operator
sets the hand brakes and leaves one locomotive running to power
the air brakes that help hold the train in place on the gently
sloping track. The next morning, the operator or a relief
engineer starts up the train and continues on their way.

Jul 8, 2013

Quebec firemen cut power to runaway train’s brakes, railway says

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, CHICAGO (Reuters) – Airbrakes that would have prevented the Quebec train disaster failed because they were powered by an engine that was shut down by firefighters as they dealt with a fire shortly before the calamity occurred, the head of the railway that operated the train said on Monday.

The runaway oil tanker train derailed in Lac-Megantic shortly after one o’clock in the morning on Saturday, exploding in a deadly ball of flames and killing at least five people, with another 40 still missing and feared dead.

Jul 8, 2013

Fire was doused on train before it smashed into Quebec town

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 8 (Reuters) – A driverless,
runaway fuel train that exploded in a deadly ball of flames in
the center of a small Quebec town started rumbling down an empty
track just minutes after a fire crew had extinguished a blaze in
one of its parked locomotives, an eyewitness said on Monday.

The train rolled 12 km (8 miles) from the town of Nantes to
the town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border in eastern
Quebec, gathering speed on a downhill grade. It derailed in the
middle of Lac-Megantic early on Saturday and blew up, flattening
dozens of buildings and killing five people. Another 40 are
missing, feared dead.

Jul 8, 2013

Police struggle to probe Quebec blast; cause still a mystery

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 8 (Reuters) – Canadian police on
Monday struggled to find the remains of people killed when a
driverless crude oil train derailed and blew up in a small
Quebec town over the weekend as questions grew over how the
disaster had occurred.

The five locomotives and 72 oil cars had been parked about
eight miles from Lac-Megantic on Friday night. The brakes then
somehow released and the train gathered pace as it rolled down a
hill into the center of the town early on Saturday morning.

Jul 7, 2013

Runaway train devastates small town in Quebec

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – The only warning Lac-Megantic residents had of the coming disaster was the louder-than-usual rumble of a train – a runaway locomotive laden with crude oil that would jump the tracks, explode and burn down the center of town.

“I heard a rattle, louder than usual, so I went out on the balcony and I saw the train going at extremely high speed,” said Ghislain Bisson, 52, who was watching late-night television as the train approached. “Then, I saw it. It just left the track and headed right for the building.

Jul 7, 2013

Five die, 40 missing after Canadian freight train disaster

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 7 (Reuters) – At least five
people died and 40 were missing on Sunday after a runaway train
carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the center of a
small Canadian town in a disaster that raised fresh questions
about shipping oil by rail.

The train was hauling crude in 72 tanker cars from North
Dakota to eastern Canada. It was parked, without a driver, but
then it rolled downhill, gathered speed and derailed on a curve
in the small town of Lac-Megantic at 1 a.m. (0500 GMT) on
Saturday.

    • About Richard

      "Richard is based in Reuters' Dakar bureau where he has helped lead coverage of two dozen countries in West and Central Africa since September 2009. He previously ran Reuters' energy coverage in the Americas as a senior editor based in New York."
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