Deputy Chief Correspondent, West & Central Africa
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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

Jul 7, 2013

Canadian freight train blast death toll hits three, set to rise

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – Canadian police on Sunday raised the death toll from a massive explosion involving a runaway freight train to three and said they expected to find more bodies in the wreckage of a small Quebec town.

The train, which had been hauling crude oil from North Dakota to eastern Canada, derailed and blew up early on Saturday in Lac-Megantic, a town of 6,000 on the edge of a deep blue lake and ringed by forests of pine and birch. There was no driver on board.

Jul 2, 2013

Cities beef up security for Independence Day

BOSTON (Reuters) – Security will be tighter than ever in several U.S. cities during Independence Day celebrations this week, which will see some of the largest public gatherings in the country since the deadly Boston Marathon bombings in April.

Security officials said they would deploy record numbers of police and install scores of new surveillance cameras and checkpoints around fireworks displays, concerts and other Fourth of July events in Boston, New York, Washington and Atlanta.

Jul 1, 2013

Ex-FBI agent returns to testify at trial of Boston gangster

BOSTON (Reuters) – Jurors in the trial of accused Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger on Monday will hear more testimony from a former FBI agent that could shed further light into the bureau’s shady dealings with suspected gangsters during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Former agent John Morris, who was offered immunity from prosecution in 1997 in exchange for his testimony in hearings about FBI misconduct, has admitted to taking cash from known mobsters like Bulger, making them home-cooked meals, and tipping them off to FBI investigations to protect them.

Jun 28, 2013

Third man held in ex-NFL player Hernandez murder case

BOSTON (Reuters) – A man wanted by Massachusetts in connection with a murder case against former professional football player Aaron Hernandez has surrendered in Miramar, Florida, police said on Friday.

Ernest Wallace, who is suspected of being an “accessory after the fact” in the killing of Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player, turned himself in to police in Miramar, Florida, a local police official said.

    • 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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