Canadian train wreck death toll may rise as more victims found

July 11, 2013 at 4:27 PM
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LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 11 (UPI) -- Residents of a Canadian town where a runaway train exploded, killing 20, say they fear the death toll may rise because 30 people remain missing.

More victims have been found by investigators, but only one body recovered in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, has been identified, reported Thursday.

None of the victims' names have been released.

At least 30 buildings were destroyed and about one-third of the town's population of 2,000 were displaced.

Edward Burkhardt, chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway and president of its parent company Rail World Inc., based in Chicago, received an angry greeting from members of the public Wednesday when he arrived in Lac-Megantic, five days after an MMA freight train hauling 72 tanker cars filled with shale oil from North Dakota derailed and exploded.

Police escorted Burkhardt through the area Wednesday, as residents jeered and heckled him, CTV said.

He told reporters the disaster may have had its origin in an earlier fire Friday night in Nantes, about eight miles from Lac-Megantic, where the engineer had parked the train for the night.

Nantes firefighters put out the fire as the engineer slept in a hotel, Burkhardt told reporters. The railway official has claimed the firefighters turned off the locomotive's engine, which could have caused the train's air brakes to fail. CTV said firefighters have disputed his claim.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has said the province would provide $60 million to help replace destroyed homes.

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